“Hardly anyone thinks twice about being in an airplane that flies on autopilot, but being in a car that drives by itself while the driver reads a book is still quite a revolutionary thought for many people,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Car Group.
Here’s a driver reading a magazine:
The car is driving itself. She doesn’t look at all concerned. It is a Volvo.
Right now, Volvo is conducting a project called “Drive Me” on 50 km of selected roads in and around Gothenburg, Sweden. There is the initial tranche of what will be 100 vehicles by 2017 rolling right now. There are people, drivers, in the cars. They may not be reading magazines, but it’s getting close.
“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves. This is an important step towards our aim that the final ‘Drive Me’ cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode. The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions,” said Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Car Group.
The “Drive Me” initiative also includes the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park, and the City of Gothenburg.
Coelingh: “This public pilot will provide us with a valuable insight into the societal benefits of making autonomous vehicles a natural part of the traffic environment. Our smart vehicles are a key part of the solution, but a broad societal approach is vital to offer sustainable personal mobility in the future. This unique cross-functional co-operation is the key to a successful implementation of self-driving vehicles.”
Autonomy, it seems, is coming faster than one might have expected not so very long ago.