The firm is calling it the biggest, most ambitious autonomous driving trial yet seen in the UK; it will commence in early 2017 and be fully expanded to the 100-car total by 2018.
Called Drive Me London, Volvo will use the project to generate real-world data from the families using the self-driving cars, which it says will speed up the roll-out of autonomous vehicles: this data is far more realistic than test track data used up to now.
The trial is part of Volvo’s commitment that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 – and it’s the sooner the better for autonomous drive (AD) cars as far as Volvo’s concerned.
“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.”
Self-driving cars will “massively reduce car accidents” says Volvo, but also free up congested roads and save drivers time. They will also make commuting more productive and help cut pollution and emissions from cars.
Independent data suggests autonomous-drive cars can cut the number of car accidents by 30 per cent – an enormous reduction, given how up to 90 per cent of all accidents are caused by driver error or distraction. This should “largely disappear” with autonomous cars, believes Volvo.
Volvo also hopes the London trial will help speed up legislation changes needed to fully roll out autonomous cars.
“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” said 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.”