Volvo puts Swedish families to work on driverless data-slurp trials

Playing catchup with Britain, or taking a slightly different tack?


Two Swedish families are to start data-gathering trials for Volvo’s driverless car project, revealing that the Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker is quite a long way behind British autonomous vehicle R&D.

The lucky victims applicants, the Hains and the Simonovskis, will be the first families to trial the Volvo XC90s as part of the Swedish carmaker’s Drive Me project.

The SUVs are fitted with the usual driver assistance aids plus extra cameras and unspecified sensors, with the data captured being examined by Volvo’s engineers and used for the manufacturer’s driverless car project. Both families will simply drive their cars as they'd usually do, with onboard data-loggers hoovering up their driving habits for later analysis.

“It feels great to be a part of this project,” said Alex Hain, who is 45 years old. “We get the chance to be part of developing technology that will one day save lives.”

A Volvo press statement informs us all that “over time, all participants in the Drive Me project will gradually be introduced to more advanced assisted-driving cars, after receiving special training.”

This suggests a move towards Level 3 automation in relatively short order, though Volvo is at pains to point out that the initial introduction to these more advanced vehicles will take place in “controlled environments”. Volvo’s stated goal is to have a Level 5 (fully autonomous) vehicle on the road by 2021.

We’re already doing this in Blighty

Council workers in the London Borough of Greenwich were issued with Land Rover Discoveries fitted with similar data-logging gear over the summer. The Disco data is being fed to the Move UK autonomous vehicle data-gathering project, which, along with the British driverless car industry, is also aiming for Level 5 vehicles by 2021.

Those council vehicles, however, will reflect the patterns of use and driving habits of commercial vehicles driven by folk who drive around for a living. The Volvo trial will gather data on nuclear families (both in the trial include parents aged in their forties and two school-aged kids each), which reveals a different aspect of road use.

Similarly, Oxford-based driverless car software startup Oxbotica is running a broadly similar trial, which aims to put data-gathering vehicles on the M40 motorway. ®

Similar topics

Broader topics

Narrower topics


Other stories you might like

  • Microsoft-backed robovans to deliver grub in London
    British startup Wayve gets supercomputing leg up

    Microsoft is pumping supercomputing oomph as well as funds into a British-born autonomous vehicle startup.

    On Wednesday Wayve, the upstart in question, confirmed it has struck a deal with Microsoft – not surprising since Redmond has already sunk a chunk of change into the business – to use Azure to train next-gen self-driving machines from data collected from human drivers out on the road. Richard Branson, Meta AI Chief Yann LeCun, and other heavyweights are also early investors alongside the Windows giant.

    "Joining forces with Microsoft to design the supercomputing infrastructure needed to accelerate deep learning for autonomous mobility is an opportunity that we are honored to lead," said Alex Kendall, CEO of Wayve.

    Continue reading
  • Cars in driver-assist mode hit a third of cyclists, all oncoming cars in tests
    Still think we're ready for that autonomous future?

    Autonomous cars may be further away than believed. Testing of three leading systems found they hit a third of cyclists, and failed to avoid any oncoming cars.

    The tests [PDF] performed by the American Automobile Association (AAA) looked at three vehicles: a 2021 Hyundai Santa Fe with Highway Driving Assist; a 2021 Subaru Forester with EyeSight; and a 2020 Tesla Model 3 with Autopilot.

    According to the AAA, all three systems represent the second of five autonomous driving levels, which require drivers to maintain alertness at all times to seize control from the computer when needed. There are no semi-autonomous cars generally available to the public that are able to operate above level two.

    Continue reading
  • Pony.ai lassos China's first autonomous taxi license
    100 self-driving cabs will wander streets of Guangzhou

    Residents of Chinese metropolises Guangzhou and Beijing may be in for a surprise the next time they hail a cab – some of them are now self-driving.

    Autonomous driving company Pony.ai is the operator, and the only business of its kind granted a license to run driverless cabs in China, the company said. It has tested vehicles, including a driverless semi truck, in all four of China's tier-one cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen), and actual service in Guangzhou marks its first formal deployment.

    According to Pony.ai, it had to meet stringent licensing requirements that included 24 months of testing in China or abroad, at least 1 million kilometers of driven distance, at least 200,000 of which must be driven in Guangzhou's automated driving test area. During the test period, Pony.ai also had to maintain a flawless driving record without any active liability accidents.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022