Volvo Cars is to begin the UK’s most ambitious autonomous driving trial in 2017 in order to speed up the introduction of technology that promises to massively reduce car accidents as well as free up congested roads and save drivers valuable time.
The Swedish company, whose name has been synonymous with automotive safety ever since it invented the three point seat belt in 1959, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving (AD) systems globally as part of its commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.
Volvo’s UK-based test will be called ‘Drive Me London’ and differentiate itself from other AD programmes by using real families drivingAD cars on public roads.
Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and use it to develop AD cars which are suitable for real world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks. Thatcham Research will be providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.
Drive Me London will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous cars, expanding in 2018 to include up to 100 fully-autonomous cars, making it the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets. The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise Britain’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.
Independent research has revealed that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents significantly, 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.
In terms of congestion, AD cars allow traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and by extension cutting dangerous emissions and associated pollution. Lastly, reduced congestion saves drivers valuable time.