Autonomous driving explained

What are autonomous cars?

An autonomous – or self-driving – car is one that can accelerate, brake and steer itself. Such cars have long been part of a utopian vision of the future, because they will free people from the boring aspects of driving and open up exciting new ways to travel. The many attempts at realising this vision over the years have been limited by the technology available. Now we are able to make autonomous cars a reality.

Semi-autonomous and autonomous technology defined

Autonomous driving has the power to change the world as we know it forever. This change will take place step by step, however, to ensure that the technology fits around how and where people use it. 

Today, Volvo Cars uses some of this technology to create semi-autonomous cars that make your journey easier and safer, while leaving you fully in control. The all-new XC90’s Pilot Assist function, for example, can accelerate, brake and steer for you, keeping you a set distance from the car in front and in lane, at speeds up to 50 km/h. 
City Safety – standard on all our models – detects other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians and, in some cases, even large animals on the road ahead. It warns the driver of hazards and will brake the car if necessary to avoid or mitigate a collision. 

The fully autonomous car goes further. It is able to perform all driving functions without supervision of the driver.

In between these two is the highly autonomous car. At Volvo Cars we consider this the best solution for a luxury car, and this is what we are working towards. This technology will give you the option of handing over control – and responsibility – to the car on specific roads. You will be able to use your time as you choose, taking back control to enjoy driving whenever you like.

How it works The car can drive itself (accelerate, brake & steer) to a limited extent, i.e., supports the driver with keeping the distance to the vehicle in front and keeping the car in the lane in speeds up to 30 mph (XC90). However the driver remains responsible for monitoring, supervision, and over all operation of the vehicle and is expected to actively participate in the driving. The car drives itself (accelerates, brakes & steers), and the driver is not responsible for monitoring, supervision, and over all operation of the vehicle.
Responsibility The driver is always legally responsible for driving the vehicle (“driver in the loop”, “hands on the wheel, eyes on the road, mind on driving”). The driver will not be responsible for driving the vehicle when in autonomous mode (“driver out of the loop”).
The benefits to you The customer benefits a reconvenience, peace of mind and feeling of control. The customer benefit will be the freedom to engage in other activities (relax, create, entertainment, etc) in autonomous mode.
Legal status This is currently legal, since it does not change the basic assumption of (licenced) driver always being responsible. There is currently no legal framework (except for testing, in certain jurisdictions).
Roll-out These features have launched and will continue to launch in increments (certain speeds, certain scenarios, etc). This may launch in increments (certain speeds, scenarios, conditions, applications, markets).