Going autonomous: Real people, real roads, real cars

  • First two families heading out with Volvo
  • Four years of Swedish testing with ordinary folk
  • ‘Easy does it’ say Gothenburg test overseers
GOING AUTONOMOUS: Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress
GOING AUTONOMOUS:  The Hain family,  Alex and Paula and their daughters Filippa (17) and Smilla, get their first look at their autonomous (or nearly!) Volvo XC90. Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress

GOTHENBURG, Sweden – On the road at last… with real, everyday, ordinary families. We’re talking fully autonomous Volvo cars which, from today (Dec 12 2017), will be used by Swedish families in real-life testing on public roads.

There impressions, problems – perhaps fears and delights – of these brave pioneers prepared to let their car drive them instead of the other way around will be fed back to Volvo Cars engineers.

The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis ‘who live in the Gothenburg area, have each been delivered of a Volvo XC90 premium SUV with which they will support what is being called “the Drive Me project”.

GOING AUTONOMOUS: Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress
GOING AUTONOMOUS: Villiam Simonovski. Image: Volvo Cars / Newpress

Three more families will follow early in 2018 and through the next four years as many as 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.

Each family will contribute to the project with data about their everyday use and interaction with their loan car as they  commute, collect the kids from school, or simply go shopping.

REAL CUSTOMERS

Volvo plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021 and the Drive Me data will play a crucial role in the cars’development.

Alex Hain, aged 45, reported: “It feels great to be a part of this project. We will be helping to develop technology that , one day, will save lives.”

GOING AUTONOMOUS: Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress
GOING AUTONOMOUS: Elin Simonovski. Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress

Drive Me will involve real customers in testing the various stages of driver-assisted and – eventually – fully autonomous technology.

Henrik Green, Volvo’s top man in the automaker’s research and development, explained:

ARRAY OF CAMERAS

“Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo. We expect to learn a lot through engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology so that by 2021 we can offer people a fully autonomous car.”

The Hains and the Simonovskis have received Volvo XC90s fitted with Volvo’s latest driver-assistance technology, as well as an array of cameras and sensors that will monitor their behaviour and provide the car with information about its surroundings.

During these first stages the public pioneers will keep hands on the steering wheel and supervise driving at all times but, over time and after special training, will be weaned into more-advanced driving assistance.

GOING AUTONOMOUS: Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress
GOING AUTONOMOUS: Trust in me! The computerised brain at the heart of Volvo Cars’ first test-drives which will involve ordinary families  on public roads and testing grounds in and around Gothenburg. Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress

Even then, testing these more advanced cars will begin in controlled environments with supervision from a Volvo Cars safety expert. No technology will be introduced if there is any question about its safety.

READ MORE Volvo features on Carman’s Corner

The Hains are Alex and Paula (also 45) and their daughters Filippa (17) and Smilla (14). They were the first chosen to take part in Drive Me earlier in 2017.

They have been joined by Sasko Simonovski (44), his wife Anna (41) and their children Elin (10) and Villiam (eight).

More families will take part as the project progresses.

GOING AUTONOMOUS: Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress
GOING AUTONOMOUS: The Simonovski ready for a first drive in an what will be an autonomouse Volvo XC90. Image: Volvo Cars / Newspress

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