Volvo has officially started its public autonomous driving experiment, Drive Me, by putting the first of many planned XC90 models on the road.
The autonomous Volvo XC90 SUV was finalised in Volvo’s manufacturing facility in Torslanda and is the first in a series of autonomous cars that will eventually be handed to real families in Gothenburg to be driven on public roads.
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 80mph 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.
Instead of relying purely on the research of its own engineers, Volvo aims to collect feedback and input from real customers using these autonomous cars in their everyday lives.
Erik Coelingh, senior technical leader of active safety at Volvo, said: “This is an important milestone for the Drive Me project. Customers look at their cars differently than us engineers, so we are looking forward to learn how they use these cars in their daily lives and what feedback they will give us.”
After rolling off the production line, the Drive Me customer cars will undergo a rigorous testing phase to ensure that the cars’ advanced autonomous driving technologies function exactly as they should. Once this testing phase is finalised, the cars will be handed over to the customers participating in the Drive Me pilot.