Sweden: Volvo to introduce autonomous test program in 2017 image

The premium Swedish automaker has a history of delivering safer than average cars, which means its ambitions towards self-driving cars are actually self-explanatory.

More so, the carmaker made clear its desire to participate in the self-driving race by announcing a pilot program that would see 100 autonomous cars (Google also has the same number of vehicles in its upcoming test fleet) put on Swedish roads by 2017. Even more noteworthy is the fact that instead of going with the usual bunch of company engineers the guys at Volvo will hand over the keys to the customers – with the test subjects allowed to operate the cars autonomously on certain roads around Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg. “We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving,” said Peter Mertens, senior vice president of research and development for Volvo. “Taking the exciting step to a public pilot has never been done before.” Volvo will collaborate with the Swedish government, the city of Gothenburg and the Lindholmen Science Park.

Around 30 miles of highways in the city have been offered as self-driving venues for the test cars, though autonomous operation would only be allowed under certain conditions: no oncoming traffic, pedestrians or cyclists are present. A mix of drivers, including young, old, skeptics, early adopters or experienced/inexperienced would be chosen on the fact they already use the pre approved route regularly. The test vehicles will be retrofitted XC90 SUVs, equipped with a wide array of sensors, radars, cameras and lasers for a 60-degree view of the roads.