Volvo gives the go ahead to its Drive Me autonomous experiment image

The Swedish automaker has reported its first driverless XC90 version has been completed and left the assembly facility premises.

Volvo has kicked off its forward-thinking Drive Me autonomous car experiment, presenting to the world the very first self-driving XC90 Crossover to come out of the Torslanda, Sweden assembly facility. The new autonomous vehicle driving program, Drive Me, will have self-driving cars being driven by real people – not the company’s test pilots. The idea is to gather feedback after people use the driverless functionality – something engineers fiddling all day on a test route can’t deliver. The Volvo 90 series – XC90, S90 and V90 – can already be specified with Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous system that also takes over the steering wheel and will keep the car on its intended lane at up to 80 miles-per-hour (130 kilometers-per-hour).

The Drive Me units are enhanced versions of that same system, complete with added cameras and a lidar sensor up front, all of them delivering data to Volvo’s so called Autonomous Driving Brain which can operate the vehicle without any help from the driver. Drive Me will start trials in the Swedish city of Gothenberg, then in London, England next year, and a slew of Chinese cities later on. “This is an important milestone for the Drive Me project,” Volvo Cars Senior Technical Leader Active Safety, Erik Coelingh, said about the Drive Me XC90 #001. “Customers look at their cars differently than us engineers, so we are looking forward to learn how they use these cars in their daily lives and what feedback they will give us.”