The road ahead
Volvos that will drive themselves, won’t crash and talk to other cars? Welcome to your future.
The future of driving
At Volvo, we will accept full liability for our cars driven in autonomous mode.
Words: Ian Dickson Portraits: Jack Lawson
How close is Volvo to launching an autonomous car?
Trent: “Our latest cars already use aspects of autonomous technology, where the driver is still responsible. For example there’s Pilot Assist which, by reading lane markings, helps to keep you in your lane with light steering inputs, while Adaptive Cruise Control helps maintain a distance to cars in front.”
When will we see fully-autonomous Volvo cars on the road?
We will have a commercial offer around 2020, but prior to that we will test our technology within the Drive Me trial which includes 100 customers driving on public streets in Gothenburg. Drive Me is a research project starting in 2017 and ending in 2019.
TRENT VICTOR - Professor of Crash Avoidance and driver behaviour
Our technology will work on a subconscious level. Like breathing, you won’t even need to think about it
Trent: “Our technology will involve continuous control rather than responses to incidents. So, instead of warnings that the driver has to respond to, the technology will operate continuously and react automatically and instantly to threats.”
So it works almost on a subconscious level?
Trent: “Exactly. Like breathing or your sense of balance, you won’t even need to think about it.”
This is a massive shift in technology. It’s making driving more natural, isn’t it?
Trent: “Your brain’s perception of time and space is not the same as your conscious experience. In order to prompt an instant avoidance manoeuvre, for instance, we focus on creating instinctive cues rather than display a warning on a screen, which the driver then has to absorb, process and respond to.”
An autonomous car won’t require any driver action, then?
Trent: “When your car is in autonomous mode, that’s correct. By taking care of all the driving, it will allow you to fully relax. But you won’t drive everywhere in autonomous mode, so we will have technology that will warn the driver sooner and more instinctively, giving them more time to react.”
MARCUS ROTHOFF - Autonomous Driving Strategist
“The car will behave in a way that you really trust, so you can then use your time as you wish.”
Marcus: “Autonomous cars will be as revolutionary as the mobile phone; they will make your life better in so many ways by introducing a huge convenience factor. You can choose to use all the entertainment on offer to you but even your standard drive to work will be enhanced.
You could have a meeting, send emails, write a presentation on the way to work, allowing you to maybe leave for home earlier. It will improve your work-life balance.”
You could even say that it’s like you are building a time machine.
Marcus: “Yes, it’s a bit like a time machine in that sense. Even commuting one hour to work is too much. We’re giving people their time back.”
Shaping the road ahead
At Volvo, we are creating a meaningful future of driving. From designing semi-autonomous technology that’s intuitive and natural, to exploring how autonomous cars will improve everyday life, our journey has just begun.
Freedom of choice
We believe autonomous driving will recapture the freedom once synonymous with cars. Concept 26 has been designed to make all time inside the vehicle as meaningful as possible.C26
Pilot Assist is designed to enhance your driving experience, by automatically maintaining a set speed or distance to the car in front to keep you properly aligned within your lane markings.S90
Have your say
We will have a commercial offer within full autonomous driving around 2020, but prior to that we will test our technology within the Drive Me trial which includes 100 customers driving on public streets in Gothenburg. As we move forward there are still many decisions to be taken.JOIN THE DEBATE
Everything we do is designed around people, so every innovation we make is designed to simplify and improve your life. We're especially proud of our advances in efficient power, connectivity and safety. We call our thinking in these areas: Drive-E, Sensus, and IntelliSafe.