Swedish safety goes high-tech

Autoliv, a global automotive safety systems provider based out of Sweden, is partnering with Volvo in a joint venture to make autonomous driving software. The two companies hope to make driving safer through the implementation of new self-driving features, eventually pushing towards a future where full autonomy is the norm.

Currently, the new company is looking to set up shop in Gothenburg, Sweden, employing 200 workers pulled from both Autoliv and Volvo. The unnamed joint venture plans on eventually expanding to 600 employees, with operations commencing sometime early next year.

By joining forces, Autoliv and Volvo hope to create advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous driving (AD) systems, both of which will be incorporated into various Volvo products. Autoliv also expects to sell the ADAS and AD products to other automakers, with revenues shared between the two companies.

“This new company is a recognition of the fact that autonomous driving is the next step to transform road safety,” said Jan Carlson, chairman, president and chief executive at Autoliv.

For now, the plan is to get the ADAS products up and running by 2019, while the AD systems will see a release in 2021.

“By combining our know how and resources we will create a world leader in AD software development,” said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive at Volvo. “This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster.”

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The Full Story

This latest announcement should come as no surprise to anyone following Volvo’s activities lately. The Swedish automaker prides itself on its safety record, advertising how it was the first to offer a three-point safety belt as standard equipment back in 1959 (Volvo 122). Furthermore, Volvo says that by the year 2020, no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo model. That’s the plan, at least.

Obviously, Volvo’s goal is rather lofty, but based on promises made by autonomous driving advocates, it might not be that far fetched. The safety of self-driving cars has been called into question lately, in particular when it comes to Tesla’s auto-pilot system, but the more you look into it, the more you realize how much good fully autonomous drive systems can do in the long-term. That’s not to say there aren’t drawbacks (there are always drawbacks), but properly applied, AD has a real potential to save countless lives.

Of course, there is still some negotiations going on between the two companies, so it’s possible this aforementioned joint venture will fall apart. However, if Volvo wants reach its goal of no serious injuries or deaths in new Volvo models by 2020, it’s gonna need to get a move on.

Press Release

The planned new company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden, and an initial workforce taken from both companies of around 200, increasing to over 600 in the medium term. The company is expected to start operations in the beginning of 2017.

The joint venture will create a new entrant in the growing global market for autonomous driving software systems. It marks the first time a leading premium car maker has joined forces with a tier one supplier to develop new ADAS and AD technologies.

The new company, which has yet to be named, will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to all car makers globally, with revenues shared by both companies.

The joint venture will bring together two global leaders in automotive safety, underlining the contribution ADAS and AD can make to road safety and speeding the development and introduction of fully autonomous cars.

Volvo Cars has an established reputation for making some of the world’s safest cars, having invented the three point safety belt and consistently developed and introduced world leading active and passive safety systems. It has a medium term vision that no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

Autoliv is the world’s leading supplier of safety systems to car makers worldwide and has led the way in the development and introduction of active and passive safety technologies to the world’s car makers for more than 60 years.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “By combining our know how and resources we will create a world leader in AD software development. This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster.”

Jan Carlson, chairman, chief executive and president of Autoliv, said: “There are no two companies that can claim to have done more for automotive safety worldwide than Autoliv and Volvo. This new company is a recognition of the fact that autonomous driving is the next step to transform road safety.”

Both Autoliv and Volvo Cars will licence and transfer the intellectual property for their ADAS systems to the joint venture. From this base the company will develop new ADAS technologies and AD systems. It expects to have its first ADAS products available for sale by 2019 with AD technologies available by 2021.

Autoliv will be the exclusive supplier and distribution channel for all the new company’s products towards third parties, except Volvo Cars which will source directly from the new company. Its management will comprise of representatives from Autoliv and Volvo Cars.

Dennis Nobelius, managing director of Volvo Switzerland and formerly vice president vehicle line 90 at Volvo Cars, will be the chief executive of the new joint venture.

The non-binding letter of intent is subject to further negotiations and the parties reaching a final definitive agreement, and there is no guarantee that any definitive agreement will be reached or that the forming of the joint venture contemplated by the non-binding letter of intent will occur.

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