Once upon a time, about 4 years ago, Volvo said it would have 100 self-driving cars on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden, by the end of 2017 through the Drive Me autonomous vehicle program. That obviously didn’t happen, so the automaker is making moves to improve upon its driverless technologies, and its first Level 4 autonomous car before it becomes available in 2021.
Back in 2013, Volvo said it would have 100 autonomous cars on the road by now in conjunction with the Swedish government to test out their tech, and its effects on traffic and the economy. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this has been delayed, and a new approach to the whole thing has been adopted. Over the next four years, the company plans to have 100 people involved in the Drive Me program in order to drive customer feedback to the company’s engineering team.
Volvo’s autonomous driving program director, Marcus Rothoff told Autoblog, “... some of the questions that we thought were really difficult to answer have been answered much faster than we expected. And in some areas, we are finding that there were more issues to dig into and solve than we expected.” The revelations have allowed the company to look deeper into what would make their Level 4 autonomous vehicle work for them and their customers in the best way possible. Some of the delays are even due to quickly evolving technologies that undermine their efforts without further examination of alternatives.
In the meantime, the automaker is enlisting two families from the Gothenburg area to test XC90 SUVs that are fitted with Volvo’s latest Level 2 driver-assist technology. They will keep their hands on the wheel during the first stages, gradually being introduced to more advanced systems. Of course, the families will receive training on how to handle the technology prior to receiving them, but their feedback on the functionality will be crucial to program’s success. Three more families are set to follow this program early next year, leading to there being up to 100 people involved in the program before four years is up. Volvo’s main priority is safety, and they aim to get that down before releasing anything to the general public.