Swedish car maker Volvo is planning to test self-driving cars on public roads around London next year. Initially, the cars will be in semi-autonomous mode, transporting real families. Similar trials will also be conducted in Gothenburg, Sweden.
The project, named Drive Me London, will record data to help improve the technology and how it responds to everyday, real-world conditions. By 2018, the trial is due for an expansion, bringing the total number of autonomous vehicles to 100, making it the largest ever test of its kind in the UK. Other details, such as which roads are involved, are yet to be revealed.
"Autonomous driving (AD) represents a leap forward in car safety," said Håkan Samuelsson, president of Volvo Cars.
"The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."
Around nine in ten of car accidents are caused by driver error, and data suggests that autonomous vehicles could lower car accidents by around 30%.
The UK aims to be a pioneer in autonomous vehicles, with self-driving cars being tested on the roads around the O2 arena in Greenwich and in Milton Keynes this summer. Tests are also running in Bristol and Coventry.
Meanwhile, in the US, Ford and Google have joined forces to lead a call for the development and federal approval of self-driving cars.
The group, named the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, testified at a hearing held by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regarding autonomous vehicles.
This coalition, which also includes Volvo, Uber, and Lyft, is seen as a move that may open a path for these companies to work together in making driverless cars. However, a spokeswoman for Ford said the partnership with Google was not a sure sign of to come, but rather simply two companies working together for a common goal. She added, “The five founding members of the coalition are focused on public policy issues. That’s the mission of the group.”
Other automakers involved in the hearing were General Motors and Toyota. Also present were advocates for disabled people who can’t operate vehicles, as well as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which noted that autonomous vehicles may help reduce accidents due to drunk driving.