Volvo has publicly stated its intentions to get self driving cars on the roads soon and recently reiterated its plans to kickstart that process with a pilot program called “Drive Me.”
The firm said it plans to get 100 self-driving cars on the roads by 2017, just two years from now. The project will not only help Volvo compete in the space, but might also help it learn more about autonomous driving that can help it achieve “Vision 2020,” which is the automaker’s plan whereby it hopes there won’t be a single death or serious injury in its cars by the year 2020.
“We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving,” Volvo senior vice president of research and development Dr. Peter Mertens explained. “Taking the exciting step to a public pilot, with the ambition to enable ordinary people to sit behind the wheel in normal traffic on public roads, has never been done before.” Mertens said that, in the future, Volvo drivers will have the option to drive the car, or to allow the car to take over completely.
Volvo knows there are situations where a driver must be in control, like when the weather is bad or there’s a technical problem inside the vehicle. At that point, the car will need to alert the driver to take over full controls. Likewise, the car must also be able to detect if a driver is incapacitated and, if he or she is, the car will need to “bring itself to a safe place to stop.”
Volvo said its “Drive Me” pilot program includes several components including radar, sensors, cameras, 360-degree vision, ultrasonic sensors, high performance GPS and connectivity to cloud services.
The pilot will take place on “selected roads” in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden and Volvo said it will include legislators, transit authorities and other experts to “ensure a crash-free future.”