The Swedish government wants to beat Google and become the world leader in autonomous vehicle technology, therefore a fleet of 100 self-driving Volvos will use approximately 31 miles of public roads in and around the Swedish city of Gothenburg, starting from 2017.
The joint initiative between Volvo, the Swedish Transport Administration, the Swedish Transport Agency, Lindholmen Science Park and the City of Gothenburg will commence in 2014 with customer research and technology development, as well as the development of a user interface and cloud functionality. The first cars are expected to be on the roads in Gothenburg by 2017 in order to help turning the Swedish government's vision of zero traffic fatalities into reality in the near-future.
The cars in question are defined as Highly Autonomous Cars, according to the official definition by the Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt) in Germany:
In practical terms this means that the responsibility is handed over to the vehicle, which can handle all driving functions at the driver's discretion. The driver is expected to be available for occasional control but with a sufficiently comfortable transition time.
The 100 Volvos will be new models developed on the company's upcoming Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). The architecture is prepared for the continuous introduction of new support and safety systems all the way to technologies that enable highly autonomous drive. The first SPA model will be the Volvo XC90, which will be introduced in 2014 featuring adaptive cruise control with steer assist and road edge and barrier detection with steer assist, which detects if the car is about to drive off the road and autonomously applies steering torque to bring it back on track.
As well as letting their "drivers" to read or use their phones behind the wheel, the cars will also park themselves by finding a vacant spot once the driver has walked away.
People of Gothenburg, good luck to you all!