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Volvo plans real-world testing of autonomous driving in London

Next year will see Volvo begin trials of semi-autonomous cars on UK public roads with Drive Me London using real families driving AD cars

Volvo will begin its most ambitious AD trial next year
Volvo will begin its most ambitious AD trial next year

Volvo is to begin trials of semi-autonomous cars on UK public roads from next year in a bid to ‘massively’ reduce car accidents. The Swedish car maker is pioneering the development of autonomous driving (AD) systems globally as it seeks to deliver on its commitment that “no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020”.


Thought to be the largest and most ambitious test of its kind, ‘Drive Me London’ will differentiate itself from other AD programmes by using real families driving AD cars on public roads. It will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 AD cars.


“Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”


Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and use it to develop AD cars that are suitable for real world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks. Thatcham Research will be providing analysis of the collected data as well as any professional test drivers required as part of the trial.


According to Volvo the introduction of AD cars promises to transform Britain’s roads in four main areas: safety; congestion; pollution; and time-saving.


Independent research indicates that AD has the potential to significantly reduce the number of car accidents, and in some cases by up to 30 per cent. Up to 90 per cent of all accidents are presently caused by driver error or distraction, something that should largely disappear with AD cars, the company claims.


“Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop ‘out of the loop’ for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research. “Without doubt, crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on many new cars.


“Additionally, if a crash unfortunately can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance – reducing the severity of the crash,” he continued.


“Driverless cars will see our journeys become faster, cleaner and safer. The UK is leading the way in developing the technology needed to make this a reality thanks to our world-class research base and these types of trials will become increasingly common," added Sajid Javid, UK secretary of state for business, innovation and skills.


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