Volvo unveiled Thursday its plans to release self-driving cars in two years, joining Google, Tesla, and other tech industries in their ambitious quest to turn roads driver-free.
According to phys.org, the Swedish car maker has already proposed designs for the self-driving cars, which they claim is already ready for consumer consumption within two years time. In a promotional video, Volvo announced that it is aiming to release 100,000 self-driving cars in the streets of Sweden by 2017, potentially making the European country the first to have a significant number of driver-less cars on its national roads.
Peter Mertens, head of Volvo’s research and development team, promises that the current design for the self-driving car is already “production-viable” and is awaiting further development.
Despite multiple companies already miles ahead of Volvo in the race for consumer-ready self-driving cars, Volvo described their latest venture as “uncharted territory.”
Erik Coelingh, one of Volvo’s senior planners, explained how they intend to keep their autonomous cars safe on the road.
“Making this complex system 99 percent reliable is not good enough. You need to get much closer to 100 percent before you can let self-driving cars mix with other road users in real-life traffic.”
Coelingh also boasted of the reaction time of Volvo’s self-driving cars. According to Business Insider,, the car’s autopilot system is designed to react faster than humans, especially during times of emergency. This has been achieved, according to company designers, through an intricate network of radars, sensors, cameras, and a laser scanner.
The autopilot system of Volvo’s self-driving cars will not be as efficient under harsh weathers, but according to their latest announcement video, the car can give its drivers full control during such occasions. On times when the driver cannot handle the wheel, the car’s system will bring the vehicle to a safe stop, allowing the person inside to seek help if necessary.
Years before Volvo’s recent announcement, Google’s self-driving car has already been tested extensively on the road. In 2012, Google’s autonomous car had officially driven 500,000 kilometers, accident-free. Two traffic incidents involving the Google car had been recorded, although the tech giant claims that both accidents primarily involved human operators and not its car’s autopilot systems.
Tesla has also recently joined the race for autonomous cars. In 2014, the company announced that it expects Elon Musk, Paypal co-founder and current CEO of Tesla, to be the first to announce the consumer release of self-driving cars to the public.
[Image from Volvo/YouTube]