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Volvo Cars to launch UK autonomous driving trial in London in 2017

Volvo Cars, the Swedish (and Chinese owned) car maker, has announced it is to begin a autonomous driving trial next year.

In 2010, Volvo Cars was acquired by Geely Holding.

Last year Volvo previewed testing of its DriveMe technology on main roads in Gothenburg, Sweden, and earlier this month also made known similar plans for testing in USA and China.

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


A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – Implications for the Insurance Industry, 3 May

"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."

Mr Samuelsson will be speaking at a seminar sponsored by Volvo and Thatcham, the insurance industry's research organisation, in London on May 3 entitled 'A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – Implications for the Insurance Industry' at the America Conference Centre in London.


’Drive Me London'

Volvo's UK-based test will be called 'Drive Me London' and will, accordant o the company, differentiate itself from similar programmes by using real families driving Autonomous Driving cars on public roads.  

Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and use this data to develop Autonomous Driving (AD) cars suitable for real-world driving conditions, rather than conditions found on test tracks.

Thatcham Research will be providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.  

Drive Me London will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 AD cars.

This will, According to Volvo, make it the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain's streets.


Safety, congestion, pollution and time saving

Volvo claims the introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise Britain's roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.  

It cites research that it says shows that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents significantly, in some cases by up to 30%.

Volvo claims that Up to 90% of all accidents are presently caused by driver error or distraction, something that it hopes will 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. 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. Research in the US by NHTSA predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80%. 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," said Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research.

"Driverless cars will see our journeys become faster, cleaner and safer. The UK is leading the way in developing the technology needed to make this a reality thanks to our world-class research base, and these types of trials will become increasingly common," Sajid Javid, UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills said. "Such advances in technology prove the fourth industrial revolution is just around the corner, and our determination to be at the forefront is why we are attracting top names from across the globe for real-world testing."

Volvo pointed to other potential benefits. According to Mr 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."

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