Volvo Cars will initiate an autonomous driving pilot project from next year, with 100 self-driving cars to hit public Gothenburg roads by 2017.
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Dubbed 'Drive Me', the autonomous driving pilot is a joint venture between Volvo Car Group, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg.

Focused on future sustainable mobility, the project aims to investigate the societal benefits of autonomous driving – such as improved traffic efficiency and reduced fuel consumption and emissions – and work towards Volvo’s and the Swedish government's goal of zero traffic fatalities.

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Due to start in 2014 with customer research and technology development, Volvo expects 100 customers in 100 'Highly Autonomous’ Volvo cars to be used on approximately 50km of selected Gothenburg arterials and motorways by 2017.

President and CEO of Volvo Car Group Hakan Samuelsson said the pilot will give an insight into technological challenges of autonomous systems as well as feedback from real customers driving on public roads.

“Pioneering technologies involving extensive use of driver support systems will not only help us realise our safety vision but also bring strong societal and consumer benefits,” Samuelsson said.

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Volvo Car Group technical specialist Erik Coelingh explained, “Our aim is for the car to be able to handle all possible traffic scenarios by itself, including leaving the traffic flow and finding a safe ‘harbour’ if the driver for any reason is unable to regain control.”

Volvo says while the pilot fleet are able to handle all driving functions at the driver’s discretion, including fully automated parking, drivers are still expected to be available for occasional control, albeit with “sufficient transition time”.

The 100 autonomous cars are to be new models based on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which will debut beneath the all-new Volvo XC90 when it launches at the end of 2014.

Volvo launched its ‘Vision 2020’ plan in 2008, stating that “no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020”.