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Swedish families help Volvo develop autonomous vehicles

Swedish car manufacturing colossus Volvo has embarked on an innovative project centered on helping the automotive firm accelerate its plan to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles. Volvo has announced that it is launching its 'Drive Me' campaign, which focuses on the participation of Swedish families.

Starting today, premium automaker Volvo Cars begins developing its autonomous driving vehicles with help from Swedish families, who will test its cars on the public roads of Gothenburg and share their impressions with Volvo Cars engineers.

The first two families, the Hains and the Simonovskis from the Gothenburg area, have now received the Volvo XC90 premium SUVs with which they will support the Drive Me project. Three more families will follow early next year and over the next four years, up to 100 people will be involved in Drive Me.

Both families will contribute to Drive Me with invaluable data by allowing engineers at the company to monitor their everyday use and interaction with the car, as they drive to work, bring the kids to school or go shopping for groceries.

Volvo's autonomous driving program director, Marcus Rothoff, said that this program was a fundamental component in the firm's attempts to accelerate self-driving vehicles onto Swedish roads by generating crucial data that will contribute to the ultimate aim of making driving safer.

He said, "On the journey, some of the questions that we thought were really difficult to answer have been answered much faster than we expected. And in some areas, we are finding that there were more issues to dig into and solve than we expected. The development in sensor performance and processor capabilities is going so much faster than we expected in 2013. Because advancements are being made at such a rapid pace, we want to make this decision as late as possible. The autonomous car must be the safest car on the road. But you don't just pay for it being the safest. You need to know it has a value. The research is helping us extract what this value is."

Volvo Cars plans to have a fully autonomous car commercially available by 2021 and the data derived from Drive Me will play a crucial role in the development of these autonomous cars.