Self-driving Volvos on way

25 Oct, 2012 3:06pm Tom Phillips

The first self-driving Volvo will go on sale in 2014, thanks to the firm's new traffic jam assistance system

Volvo has confirmed that a car equipped with its new traffic jam assistance system will go on sale in 2014. The system allows the car to automatically follow the vehicle in front at speeds of up to 50kmh (31mph).

Volvo calls it the traffic jam assistance function. Activated by pressing a button in the car, the system controls the car’s steering, brakes and engine. The firm hopes this will help reduce low-speed accidents caused by drivers not paying enough attention in slow-moving traffic.

The traffic jam assistance is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced on the Volvo V40.

"The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Cars.

At present, the system only works at slow speeds, but a Volvo spokesman confirmed that as customers get used to the autonomous driving system, the speed that the assistance works at could be increased.

This ties in with Volvo’s SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), which allows cars to follow each other automatically on the motorway at speeds of up to 56mph.

The traffic jam assistance system will be introduced as part of Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture, SPA, which will be introduced in 2014.

The first car to use the new tech and platform is likely to be the XC90 replacement, although any current Volvo, except the C70 and existing XC90, features the sensors required to allow the traffic jam assistance technology to work.