Volvo to Launch Autonomous Driving Trial in London in 2017

April 28, 2016

Swedish car maker Volvo will begin an autonomous driving trial in London in 2017.

Called “Drive Me London,” the UK trial will use real families in semi-autonomous cars. Starting with a handful of AD cars next year, the trial will expand in 2018 to include up to 100 vehicles, “making it the largest and most extensive AD testing program on Britain’s streets,” the company said.

“Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and use this data to develop AD cars that are suitable for real-world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks,” said Volvo.

Volvo said it is pioneering the development of autonomous driving (AD) systems globally as part of its commitment “that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.”

Commenting on the trial, Ben Howarth, policy adviser for Motor and Liability at the Association of British Insurers (ABI), said: “This is a really exciting project being announced by Volvo. Automated vehicles will transform the way we drive, reducing both congestion and crashes. The insurance industry is helping work out how best to introduce this new technology so everyone can benefit and ambitious trials like this one are a crucial part of making that happen.”

The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionize Britain’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving, Volvo said in a statement.

Reducing Car Accidents

“Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”

Volvo cited independent research, which has revealed that AD has the potential to significantly reduce the number of car accidents – in some cases by up to 30 percent. “Up to 90 percent of all accidents are presently caused by driver error or distraction, something that should largely disappear with AD cars.”

“Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop ‘out of the loop’ for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, which is providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed for the trial.

“Without doubt, crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on many new cars,” he added. “Research in the U.S. by [the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration] predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80 percent,” Shaw added in the statement issued by Volvo.

“Additionally, if a crash unfortunately can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance – reducing the severity of the crash,” he said.

“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” said Samuelsson. “That is why governments globally need to put in place the legislation and infrastructure to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

Source: Volvo and Association of British Insurers