Volvo is focusing on autonomous driving. It has signed a framework agreement with Uber, the ride sharing company, to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles between 2019 and 2021. But that is not all. Volvo has served families the world over with safe, reliable cars and it wants to continue this good tradition into the autonomous driving age.
So families and Volvo are joining hands, once again. Swedish families who will test its cars on the public roads of Gothenburg and feed back their impressions to Volvo Cars engineers.
The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis from the Gothenburg area, have now received the Volvo XC90 premium SUVs with which they will support the Drive Me project. Three more families will follow early next year and over the next four years, up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.
Both families will contribute to Drive Me with invaluable data by allowing engineers at the company to monitor their everyday use and interaction with the car, as they drive to work, bring the kids to school or go shopping for groceries.
Volvo Cars plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021 and the data derived from Drive Me will play a crucial role in the development of these autonomous cars.
“Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo Cars,” said Henrik Green, Senior Vice President for the company’s R&D department. “We expect to learn a lot from engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology, so that by 2021 we can offer our customers a fully autonomous car.”
The Hains and the Simonovskis have received Volvo XC90s fitted with Volvo’s latest driver assistance technology as well as an array of cameras and sensors to monitor their behavior and provide the car with information on its surroundings.
Playing it (very) safe…
During these first stages, the families will keep their hands on the steering wheel and supervise the driving at all times when using their cars. But, over time, all participants in the Drive Me project will gradually be introduced to more advanced assisted driving cars, after receiving special training.
Even then, testing these more advanced cars will initially take place in controlled environments with supervision from a Volvo Cars safety expert. Volvo is clear about this: no technology will ever be introduced if there is any question over its safety.
Volvo has big plans with Uber…
Earlier last month, Volvo announced that it has signed a non-exclusive framework agreement with Uber. “The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” told us Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. The agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
Volvo Cars’ engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber. The base vehicles incorporate all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology.
Volvo will use the same base vehicle in the development of its own independent autonomous car strategy, which is planned to culminate in the release of its first fully autonomous car in 2021. A brave new (Volvo) world will unfold soon!
Hans Knol ten Bensel