Volvo has been at the forefront of self-driving cars, and the Swedish company isn’t being selfish with its expertise.
The automaker has a pilot project for autonomous cars called Drive Me, where a family could lease a self-driving XC90 that records various data about their driving habits and how they interact with the car.
During an interview at the 2017 Detroit Auto Show with Marcus Rothoff, Volvo’s Autonomous Driving Program Director, he explained that having data on how humans interact with real self-driving vehicles is vital to the program’s success. He said Volvo plans on sharing that information with other automakers to expedite research in autonomous cars.
“Collaboration is important when it comes to safety,” Rothoff said. Volvo has a special place in the automotive safety history books because it shared one of the most important safety innovations in vehicles: the three-point safety belt. “We welcome the chance to work with other automakers to improve the safety and development of self-driving vehicles.”
Rothoff imagines a future where the vehicle-to-cloud infrastructure that is used by Volvo is adopted by other automakers. Volvo hopes to have fully autonomous vehicles by 2021.
The Volvo XC90 that is being leased as part of the Drive Me program will be capable of automatically driving on the highway. It uses a variety of sensors and a front bumper mounted LIDAR, in addition to a cloud-connected service that will allow the vehicle to send data to other Volvos. That means that whenever the ABS and stability control is activated, like in slippery driving situations, other Volvos will be warned about the potentially dangerous route. Additionally, as the car drives autonomously on the highway, it will alert the driver of the upcoming off ramp, and the deactivation of the self-driving mode will begin five minutes in advance, issuing plenty of notice for when the driver has to take control.
The Swedish automaker is partnered with Uber for a self-driving collaboration, as they provide XC90s to the ride-sharing service. Uber, however, uses its own software and collects its own data.
This isn’t the first time automakers are sharing research and data in order to benefit the greater good. Tesla and Toyota have both opened up their own patents on electric and hybrid cars for other automakers to use.