Let loose in the city – 100 Volvos to drive themselves around town
AROUND 100 self-driving Volvos will take to the public road in Gothenburg, Sweden in what is being described as the world's first large-scale test of such vehicles.
Backed by the Swedish government, it is designed to give real-world feedback and knowledge of the practical pitfalls for those in the car and others on the road in every-day conditions.
The exercise involves the self-driving cars covering 50 kilometres of selected roads in and around the city each day. We are told these are 'typical commuter arteries and include motorway conditions and frequent queues'. The test is to see if the car can handle the spectrum of traffic scenarios by itself. That includes 'leaving the traffic flow and finding a safe harbour if the driver for any reason is unable to regain control'.
It will also be interesting to see how drivers of ordinary cars react when they see 'drivers' of autonomous vehicles on the phone or tapping on their iPads.
The project is to start in 2014 with customer research and cars will take to the roads within a couple of years after that.
The organisers say – wait for it – that as a driver in the future, you will be able to "plan your drive with a mix of autonomous and active driving, making your daily journey more efficient".
And you "will be able to interact safely via phone or tablets or simply choose to relax".
Basically they are saying the self-driving technology will allow you "to hand over the driving to the car when the circumstances are appropriate".
Among the 100 Volvos to be driven will be the new XC90 which is to go on sale next year.