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Volvo's ‘Drive Me’ self-driving car programme delayed

A handful of families are trialling level 2 autonomous Volvo XC90s but the planned roll-out of level 4 cars is now set for 2021

Volvo is currently asking families in Gothenburg, Sweden to help with the development of its Drive Me self-driving car programme but the Swedish manufacturer has delayed the full roll-out of level 4 autonomous test cars until 2021.

Early announcements from Volvo stated that it would have 100 fully autonomous cars being trailed on public roads before being made available to customers around 2021, but now it has changed its stance. The firm says that it has drafted in Gothenburg-based families to help provide feedback on self-driving technology that is still at the ‘level 2’ phase, little more advanced than systems that are already on sale in Volvo production cars and those of other brands. With level 2 autonomous cars, the driver is still expected to pay attention to the road and be able to take over control with little or no notice. 

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• Driverless cars: everything you need to know

Currently, two families are living with Volvo XC90 SUVs in the Swedish city as part of the Drive Me trial. These XC90’s are currently fitted with the second stage in Volvo’s autonomous tech which features and array of cameras and sensors to monitor cars and obstacles around the SUV and keep occupants safe.

Volvo will gradually add further autonomous tech that will let the car take more control from the driver as the trial period progresses. By 2021, up to 100 families will be part of the Drive Me programme and Volvo hopes that by then, the self-driving tech will be up to the standard needed for a global release.

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Gothenburg is the first of numerous planned public trials for the autonomous driving Volvo cars. A similar project is due to launch in London, while interest from cities in China could mean that the Drive Me project may be taken there over the next few years. With the ongoing development of autonomous driving systems, Volvo still hopes that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.

Volvo Drive Me autonomous truck

Volvo has already revealed a fully autonomous construction truck. The Volvo FMX is part of a research project inaugurated to try to improve safety and productivity in mines, ports and other restricted environments. The trucks would operate continuously, reducing congestion and time spent to load and unload. 

On top of this, six sensors including GPS, radar and LiDAR, will be fitted to the truck to constantly monitor its surroundings. The system will create a map of the area, using it to create routes through the tunnels as well as informing steering, gear changes and speed, subsequently optimizing its route and fuel consumption. 

The testing for the FMX at the Boliden mine in Kristineberg is due to start soon, with Volvo hoping to have three such trucks tested within a year. As the first autonomous truck in the world to be tested underground, it will cover a distance of 7km in to the mine, reaching a depth of 1,320m. 

Do you like the idea of autonomous cars on public roads? Let us know in the comments...

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