Volvo has opened a £44m proving ground in Sweden, where it’ll test the latest advances in safety technology, including autonomous vehicles.
The carmaker has teamed up with companies including truck manufacturer Scania to open the AstaZero proving ground near Gothenburg, Sweden.
It says that the opening of the proving ground, which is near the company’s head office in western Sweden, will help towards its vision that by 2020 no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car.
Unlike other proving grounds, the centre can adapt to replicate a range of test conditions – using test cars driven by robots to show how cars interact with other moving obstacles.
Anders Axelson of Volvo Cars Safety Centre: “Safety testing under realistic circumstances is a prerequisite for developing our active safety systems.
“The facility will play several important roles: not only will it help us meet our safety vision, developing cars that don’t crash, it will also help us further develop safety functions that will address non-motorists, such as pedestrians and cyclists.”
The AstaZero proving ground
The AstaZero proving ground is around 2,000,000 square metres – slightly smaller than the UK’s Millbrook proving ground, which is roughly 2,850,000 square metres.
It features 250,000 square metres of paved surface, made up of a variety of rural roads, city areas, multilane roads and high-speed areas.
Anders Axelson believes AstaZero is the perfect place to give Volvo the edge over competitors when it comes to developing safety systems and driverless vehicles.
He said: “Thanks to AstaZero, we have great prospects for keeping our leading position. We’re the only car manufacturing company in the world to have set a goal of zero traffic fatalities for a specific date, and we’re the only country in the world whose government supports a zero traffic fatalities vision.”
Has Sweden beaten the UK to becoming a hub for driverless cars?
The opening of AstaZero might seem like a bit of a blow for the UK government, who announced at the end of next year that a £10 million cash incentive was available to any town or city that builds a test site for autonomous cars.
However, we’re still in the running to get driverless cars on the roads, with a British version of Google’s driverless car currently being developed in Oxford.
And, some would argue we already have autonomous cars, in the form of the driverless pods at Heathrow airport. There are also plans to introduce the to the pavements of Milton Keynes as soon as 2015.