Volvo’s plans with autonomous cars are not new, but the automaker appears very committed to make them real. The Swedish carmaker announced a solution that makes it possible to integrate self-driving cars into real traffic, with ordinary people in the driver’s seat.
As part of its Drive Me project, Volvo will start a public pilot program in which 100 self-driving cars will get in the hands of customers on selected roads around Gothenburg by 2017.
The company claims it has designed a complete production-viable autonomous driving system based on an extensive analysis of potential technical faults. The system consists of a complex network of sensors, cloud-based positioning systems and intelligent braking and steering technologies.
Volvo says its Autopilot system is designed to be reliable enough to allow the car to take over every aspect of driving in autonomous mode. However, the cars will initially drive autonomously on selected roads with suitable conditions, for example without oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.
“Making this complex system 99 per cent reliable is not good enough. You need to get much closer to 100 percent before you can let self-driving cars mix with other road users in real-life traffic,” says Dr Erik Coelingh, Technical Specialist at Volvo Cars.
“Here, we have a similar approach to that of the aircraft industry. Our fail-operational architecture includes backup systems that will ensure that Autopilot will continue to function safely also if an element of the system were to become disabled,” he added.
Besides simplifying people’s lives and transforming the everyday commute from lost time to quality time, Volvo also lists reducing fuel consumption among the benefits of autonomous driving. That’s because the technology could improve traffic flow, as well as open up possibilities for urban planning and more cost-efficient investments in infrastructure.
Scroll down to find out how Volvo’s autonomous technology works from the video that follows.