• Volvo Launches China’s Most Advanced Autonomous Driving Experiment

Volvo looks to push the integration of autonomous cars with its latest experiment

It seems like it has been a while since we’ve gotten any major news about autonomous vehicles, but all that is about to change. Volvo is planning to launch a new experiment in which people will test autonomous cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions. The interesting thing is that Volvo is looking to start this experiment in China.

Apparently, the experiment will involve up to 100 cars that will be supplied by Volvo, assuming negotiations go well with select cities in China. If everything works out, local drivers in select cities will be able to ride around in the autonomous cars while data is collected. For now, it is just a plan, but in the coming months, Volvo is hoping to negotiate to get the necessary permission, regulations, and infrastructure for the experiments to take place. China has already made some pretty impressive strides in autonomous technology, but Volvo’s President and Chief Executive of Volvo, Hakan Samuelsson, wants to encourage China to do more to speed up the implementation of regulations that will oversee autonomous cars.

In fact, Samuelsson believes governments should step up and provide help to the auto industry in speeding up the process. In a recent press release, he said, “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved. There are multiple benefits to AD cars, and that is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

It’s really no surprise to see Volvo stepping up and pushing the issue now. As you can probably recall, autonomous cars are a huge part of the brand’s commitment to nobody being seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020. For now, autonomous cars are still a long way off, but if it keeps getting pushed as Volvo is doing now, eventually the laws and regulations will be put into place. Let’s just hope it doesn’t happen before the technology is ready.

Continue reading for the full story.

Why it matters

I understand the fact that autonomous cars could, in fact, be safer in some instances. But, there is one thing that everybody is forgetting. Our current technology limits what can be processed, which is why autonomous cars aren’t in use now. At this time, technology cannot compete with the reasoning and gut reaction of the human mind, and until it can there will be flaws. Just look at the recent situation with the self-driving Google car. It made an assumption, and that assumption resulted in an accident. Now, I’ll be fair and say that nobody was injured, and it was a low-speed incident, but it was still an accident nonetheless.

Outside of the limitations of current technology, I see another problem here. With the way Mr. Samuelsson is talking, it comes off like he is expecting autonomous cars to take over driving altogether. I have to say, I completely disagree. We’re a long way off from having fully autonomous cars, but even still, I don’t see myself ever giving up my ability to control a vehicle ever. Optional autopilot is one thing, but preventing humans from driving their own cars is not something I’m willing to give up anytime soon. I have a feeling there are a lot of others that feel the same way. What do you think? Will you be okay with never piloting a car again, or will you refuse to give up control?

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Robert Moore
Robert Moore
Editor-in-Chief and Automotive Expert - robert@topspeed.com
Robert has been an auto enthusiast his entire life. He started working cars at a young age, learning the basics from his father in the home garage on the weekends. As time went on, Robert became more and more interested in cars and convinced his father to teach him how to drive when he was just 13 years old. Robert continued working on cars in his free time and learned as much as he could about engines, transmissions, and car electrical systems, something that only fed his curiosity more and eventually led him to earn a bachelors degree in automotive technology with a primary focus on engine performance and transmission rebuilding.  Read full bio
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Press Release

Volvo Cars, the premium car maker, plans to launch China’s most advanced autonomous driving experiment in which local drivers will test autonomous driving cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions.

Volvo expects the experiment to involve up to 100 cars and will in coming months begin negotiations with interested cities in China to see which is able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead.

Volvo believes the introduction of AD technology promises to reduce car accidents as well as free up congested roads, reduce pollution and allows drivers to use their time in their cars more valuably.

The Swedish company, whose name is synonymous with automotive safety ever since it invented the seat belt in 1959, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving systems as part of its commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.

“Autonomous driving can make a significant contribution to road safety,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo will tell a seminar in Beijing on April 7, entitled ’Autonomous driving – could China take the lead?’. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”

Mr Samuelsson will welcome the positive steps China has taken to put in place to develop autonomous driving technologies, but will also encourage it to do more to try and speed up the implementation of the regulations that will oversee autonomous driving cars in future.

“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” said Mr Samuelsson. “That is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise China’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.

Independent research has revealed that AD have the potential to reduce the number of car accidents very significantly. Up to 90 per cent of all accidents are also caused by human error, something that disappears with AD cars.

In terms of congestion, AD cars allow traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and by extension cutting dangerous emissions and associated pollution. Lastly, reduced congestion saves drivers valuable time.

Mr Samuelsson will welcome moves by regulators and car makers in the US and Europe to develop AD cars and infrastructure, but he will also encourage all the parties involved to work more constructively together to avoid patchwork global regulations, technological duplication and needless expense.

“AD is not just about car technology. We need the right rules and the right laws,” Mr Samuelsson will say.

“It is natural for us to work together,” Mr Samuelsson will say. “Our starting point is that both the public and private sectors stand to benefit from new technologies and industries, so it is better to build bridges and work together than to all go in different directions.”

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