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Volvo Cars launches largest Autonomous Driving trial


Volvo Cars has announced that they are to begin the UK’s most ambitious Autonomous Driving (AD) trial in 2017.

This technology promises to massively reduce car accidents and free up congested roads to save road users valuable time. This development is part of Volvo’s commitment that no one will be seriously hurt or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.

“Autonomous Driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” says Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive, Volvo Cars. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”

Samuelsson will be available for comment at a seminar to be held on the 3rd of May at the American Conference Centre in London, entitled, “A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – Implications for the Insurance Industry.” This seminar is sponsored by Volvo and Thatcham, the insurance industry’s research organisation.

What differentiates this AD programme called, “Drive Me London” from the rest, is that Volvo’s UK-based test will be using real families driving AD cars on public roads. This will assist Volvo in gathering data and developing AD cars suitable for real-world driving conditions. Thatcham Research will be providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.

The programme will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous cars and expand to include 100 fully-autonomous cars by 2018. This will make “Drive Me London” the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets, which promises to revolutionise Britain’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.

Independent research has revealed that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents by up to 30 percent. Up to 90 percent of all accidents, presently, are caused by driver error or distraction.

“Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop “out of the loop” for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021. Without doubt, crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on many new cars. Research in the US by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80 percent. Additionally, if a crash can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance - reducing the severity of the crash,” says Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research.

AD cars allow traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and therefore cutting down emissions and pollution. Reduced congestion will mean more time saved when travelling.

“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” concludes Samuelsson. “That is why, globally, governments need to put legislation and infrastructure in place to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help,” he said.

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