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The testing will take place in Sweden

Volvo Car Group announced that it will test 100 self-driving vehicles on public roads in Sweden.

The automaker said that it wants to launch a pilot for self-driving vehicles called the "Drive Me" project. The idea behind the project is to achieve zero fatalities involving Volvo vehicles by 2020.

The Drive Me project will consist of 100 self-driving cars and 100 customers selected to run the vehicles during testing. The cars will be placed on certain roads that span about 50 kilometres in Gothenburg, Sweden.

But don't expect to see these cars on the roads anytime soon. Research and development starts in 2014, but actual testing won't begin until 2017.

It's not clear which vehicles will be used for the testing yet, but they will be based on Volvo's upcoming Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platforms.

The technology is expected to assume all normal driving functions, such as adaptive cruise control (for following the flow of traffic) and road edge detection with steer assist (for steering the car away from road edges). However, a driver does have to be present in the vehicle to take over in case of an emergency. 

On top of that, the technology will offer fully automated parking that doesn't require a driver to be in the car. 

“Autonomous vehicles are an integrated part of Volvo Cars’ as well as the Swedish government’s vision of zero traffic fatalities. This public pilot represents an important step towards this goal,” said Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO of Volvo Car Group. “It will give us an insight into the technological challenges at the same time as we get valuable feedback from real customers driving on public roads.”

Volvo isn't the only automaker with self-driving vehicle goals for the year 2020. Nissan announced that it will offer autonomous vehicles that are broadly available and have affordable prices by the end of the decade. 

Source: Volvo

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Probably an affordability issue too
By foxalopex on 12/4/2013 11:38:25 AM , Rating: 2
I suspect what's holding back self-driving cars is that the technology still isn't cheap enough yet to be placed in conventional cars. High speed scanning laser radar which is used in the best self driving cars isn't exactly an inexpensive technology.

Liability is pretty simple. Simply have the car manufacturer's cover it. Think about it, modern cars are already driven by wire which means much of what makes your car works is in the hands of the on board computer instead of you. Although Toyota's a bad example, I'm very sure that I've had more close calls due to driver error on my part or others than I ever recall my driving controls malfunctioning.

Some of the social changes thou will be dramatic. You will probably need insurance and a special license to be able to drive. Truck drivers are going to find themselves out of a job. You'll be able to sleep, play video games and text on long journeys.

By Murloc on 12/4/2013 1:36:28 PM , Rating: 2
you still need someone in the truck to take over.
E.g. the police signal you to pull aside on a non-standard road surface. The robot can't do that.

Need to park on unmarked surface or place the truck in a specific place or put it into an unloading bay?
Can't do that without a human.

Refill with gas?
Can't do that (even if you assume that they can automatically stop at gas stations, you will need to hire people to use the pump).

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