Volvo is aiming to get ahead of the game in driverless technology, confirming this week that it will expand its self-driving vehicle trials into China.
The program will see a fleet of up to 100 driverless Volvo cars used by local motorists to test the technology in a real-world environment.
Speaking at an event in Beijing, Volvo CEO Haken Samuelsson said that the experiment could be an exercise in proving the system’s feasibility to the public in an attempt the address the public’s reservations towards the technology.
“I think we need to build up (consumer) trust in the technology,” Samuelsson said. “So you have to bring it out and demonstrate it.”
Volvo, which is wholly-owned by Chinese automaker Geely, is currently in talks with a number of Chinese cities in order to find one that offers the necessary infrastructure, permissions and regulations to allow such an experiment to go ahead.
It could be argued that China’s bustling urban cities may not be the best place to perform an experiment like this one, but Volvo says that China’s city environments will offer a unique challenge to its engineers and work towards “revolutionising China’s roads”, improving safety, congestion and pollution.
Volvo has also stated that the experiment could make an impact on the company’s goal of reducing the number of fatal crashes involving Volvos to zero by 2020.
Exactly when the experiment will take place and how much it will cost is still unknown.
Autonomous driving experiments of this nature may also be undertaken locally in the not-so-distant future. Last month South Australia introduced laws that would allow companies to undertake similar driverless trials.