Volvo is set to step up the trial of its self-driving cars. The Swedish company which has already been testing its autonomous vehicles in its home country will expand the tests to London in 2017.
Drive Me London, Volvo's test project in London, will be done in association with Thatcham Research, the UK experts in vehicle safety technology, vehicle security and crash repair. Special versions of existing Volvo models, such as the XE90, S90 and V90 cars will be used in the London trials. These cars will be fitted with cameras and other sensors.
While Volvo has undertaken the trials using the same cars in other cities, the UK project will be more advanced than the previous trials. It will use real families in its driverless cars while testing on public roads.
It will collect the data from the tests conducted on everyday users and use it to develop autonomous cars for real-world conditions. While Volvo will start the UK trials with a limited number of semi-autonomous cars, it aims to put on road about 100 fully autonomous vehicles in 2018. The company claimed this would then be the most extensive public rollout of such cars in the country.
Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo's president and chief executive, said: "Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety. The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."
Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research reiterated the view. He said: "Without doubt, crash frequency will dramatically reduce, and when a crash can't be avoided, the impact speed will also drop as a result of the [autonomous] system's performance."
Volvo is not the first company to roll out such trials in the UK. Research projects relating to driver-less cars were launched in 2015 in Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes. The UK-based auto maker Jaguar Land Rover is set to trial its autonomous and connected vehicle technologies on road in the West Midlands this year.