Most car manufacturers prefer to test out their self driving car technology behind closed doors, on a test track without any other cars on the road to get in the way. Not Volvo. It’s taken a slightly different, perhaps more daring, approach.
Unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show was a family of four who are set to become the company’s first guinea pigs, sorry collaborators, in its Drive Me project.
A collaborative research program consisting of several players from public, private and academic fields, the Drive Me project will see up to 100 autonomous cars on the roads around Gothenburg, Sweden, which is the home to Volvo Cars.
Importantly, they will be driven by real people, in real traffic during 2017. The project is set to expand to other cities around the world in the near future.
Volvo Cars believes that in the rush to deliver fully autonomous cars, many car makers are forgetting the most important ingredient: the people that will use them.
Says Håkan Samuelsson, President & CEO of Volvo Car Group:
“We do things differently at Volvo Cars – we always have. Our main focus has always been on people and making their lives easier. Technology should improve the consumer experience, making mobility safer, sustainable and more convenient.”
Adds Henrik Green, Senior Vice President, Research and Development at Volvo Car Group:
“We want to learn more around how people feel when they engage and disengage autonomous drive, what the handover should be like, and what sort of things they would do in the car when it’s driving them to their destination.”
The Swedish car maker, a leading partner in the Drive Me research project, aims to have its first fully autonomous car on the market by 2021.
Volvo Cars provided a vision of what autonomous cars could deliver with Concept 26, revealed in 2015. More recently, the company has partnered with ride-sharing company Uber to develop base technology for autonomous cars, and has launched a joint venture with leading automotive safety supplier Autoliv, called Zenuity, aimed at developing benchmark autonomous drive software.
You can see the Hain family talking about taking part in the Volvo Drive Me project in the YouTube video below.