Volvo Are Developing Autonomous Drive Cars
Swedish families are being drafted by Volvo to test drive their autonomous drive cars around the public roads of Gothenburg and report back with feedback for the Volvo Car engineers. This project has been named ‘Drive Me’.
The Hain and Simonovski families, both from the Gothenburg area, have received the premium Volvo XC90 SUV and will join the Drive Me scheme first. At the beginning of next year, three more families will join and over the next four years Volvo aims to have up to 100 people involved in Drive Me.
The first two families with be able to provide the Volvo engineers with invaluable data, by allowing them to monitor their everyday use and interaction with the car, such as driving their children to school and grocery shopping. If everything goes to plan, Volvo will release a fully autonomous car by 2021 and the Drive Me project plays a vital role in the development of such vehicles.
Alex Hain, 45-year-old participant of Drive Me, commented: “It feels great to be a part of this project. We get the chance to be part of developing technology that will one day save lives.”
As Drive Me progresses, families will be testing the different stages of driver assisted cars, until they eventually test fully autonomous technology. At current, the XC90 supplied to the Hains and Simonovskis has been fitted with the latest in Volvo driver-assistance technology, as well as plenty of cameras and sensors for Volvo engineers to monitor the family’s behaviour and provide the car with information on its surroundings.
Henrik Green, Senior Vice President of Volvo Research and Development, said: “Drive Me is an important research project for Volvo Cars. We expect to learn a lot from engaging these families and will use their experiences to shape the development of our autonomous driving technology, so that by 2021 we can offer our customers a fully autonomous car.”
At first, the families will need to keep their hands on the steering wheel and supervise driving at all times when in the car. But as the level of autonomy increases, the families involved in the project will be given special training to properly handle the more advanced assisted-driving cars. Before the families test the cars on public roads, they will be tested in a controlled environment with the supervision of a Volvo Cars safety expert. If there is any question of the safety of any of the cars, they will not be introduced into the Drive Me project. This thoroughness is another indication of Volvo Cars commitment to safety that has helped to establish the brand as a builder of some of the world’s safest cars.
The Hains were the first family recruited into the Drive Me project and consist of Alex and Paula, both 45 years old and their daughters Filippa, who is 17, and Smilla, who is 14.
The Hains were later joined by Sasko Simonovski, 44, and his 41-year-old wife Anna, and their children Elin, 10, and Villiam, who is 8.