Volvo’s Self-Driving Car Project has Begun Using Real People on Public Roads

Self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs are heading to public roads in Gothenburg.

The company has officially kicked off its Drive Me project, what it calls the “world’s most ambitious and advanced public autonomous driving experiment.” The first autonomous Volvo XC90 was finalized at the Swedish automaker’s plant in Torslanda, and is the first in a series of self-driving cars that will eventually be used by real families in Gothenburg and driven on public roads.

Building on the current semi-autonomous technologies it already uses in production vehicles, the Volvo XC90 adds hands-off and feet-off capability in special autonomous drive zones around Gothenburg, powered by what Volvo calls the Autonomous Driving Brain.

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Volvo is focused on collecting feedback and inputs from real customers using the autonomous cars in their everyday lives, and hopes that this customer-focused approach will further fine tune its autonomous driving technologies. It hopes to have it available to production vehicles around 2021.

The Drive Me customer cars will undergo a rigorous testing phase to ensure each car’s autonomous driving technology functions as it should. The launch in Gothenburg is the first in a number of planned public trials, with a similar project heading to London next year. Volvo is currently assessing bids from interested cities in China to launch a Drive Me project there within the next few years.

“This is an important milestone for the Drive Me project,” said Erik Coelingh, senior technical leader active safety at Volvo Cars, as he observed the final touches being put to the car. “Customers look at their cars differently than us engineers, so we are looking forward to learn how they use these cars in their daily lives and what feedback they will give us.”

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