Volvo Cars has announced what it describes as the UK’s most ambitious autonomous driving trial which will include ‘real families’ driving on public roads.
‘Drive Me London’ will be officially unveiled at a seminar on 3 May, and the trial itself will begin in early 2017.
In its early stages, Drive Me London will involve a limited number of semi-autonomous cars before expanding in 2018 to include up to 100 autonomous cars. Volvo says this will make it Britain’s largest and most extensive testing programme.
The announcement came on the same day that Google confirmed it has formed a coalition with carmakers, including Volvo, to help steer the regulations needed to make self-drive cars a reality.
The group, which also includes Ford, Uber and Lyft, will lobby governments and regulators on legal matters, while also aiming to convince the public of the benefits of driverless cars.
Research published this week by IAM RoadSmart indicates that gaining the full support of the public may be a tough proposition.
An independent survey of 1,000 British motorists, and a separate poll among the charity’s 92,000 members, suggests that 65% of drivers believe that a human being should always be in control of a vehicle.
53% of those who took part in the survey also said the focus should be on making drivers safer – not just cars.
Volvo, however, says the technology promises to massively reduce collisions, free up congested roads and save drivers valuable time.
It hopes the Drive Me London trials, which will also involve Thatcham Research, will help develop autonomous cars suitable for real-world driving conditions, rather than conditions found on test tracks.
Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety, the sooner (these) cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.
“There are multiple benefits to autonomous driving cars; that is why governments globally need to put in place the legislation and infrastructure to allow (them) onto the streets as soon as possible.
“The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”