The Swedish city of Gothenburg is to hold the world’s first large-scale autonomous car trial, with 100 self-driving Volvos used in a pilot project called “Drive Me”.
The cars will use 50km of public roads and experience “everyday driving conditions”, where their autonomous capabilities – braking, staying in lane, adaptive cruise control and parking – will be put to the test. While the cars are self-driving, their drivers won’t need to do anything, but will be able to interact using smartphones and tablets.
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The Volvos in question are defined as “Highly Autonomous Cars”, which mean that most driving functions can be carried out automatically. A driver is however expected to be available for occasional control.
The Drive Me scheme is being run in partnership with a host of Swedish government departments, and the idea is to demonstrate not only that self-driving cars work but that they’re safer and more fuel efficient than their human-controlled counterparts.
Research suggests that 90-95 percent of traffic accidents are the result of human error, and that autonomous driving can cut fuel consumption by up to 50 percent in certain conditions. (Plus, you get to read your Kindle and sip cappuccinos while your car whisks you home from the office, so what’s not to like?)