Volvo’s “Drive Me,” a public autonomous driving experiment, officially kicked off on Friday with the production of the very first autonomous car, a Volvo XC90, that will be used in the project in Gothenburg, Sweden.
Volvo currently offers a semi-autonomous functionality called Pilot Assist on its 90 series cars. Pilot Assist gives gentle steering inputs to keep the car properly aligned within lane markings up to 130 km/h without the need to follow another car. The Drive Me cars will add hands-off and feet-off capability in special autonomous drive zones around Gothenburg, powered by what Volvo calls the Autonomous Driving Brain.
The safety-focused manufacturer is pioneering the development of autonomous driving systems as part of its vision that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.
Instead of relying purely on the research of its own engineers, Volvo aims to collect feedback and inputs from real customers using these autonomous cars in their everyday lives, which will help fine-tune its self-driving technologies and make its offering as relevant as possible to customers ahead of a commercial introduction around 2021.
The Drive Me pilot project in Gothenburg is the first in a number of planned public trials with autonomous Volvo cars. Another one will be launched in London next year, while Volvo is also assessing bids from interested cities in China to launch a Drive Me project there within the next few years.