Volvo Cars is developing its autonomous drive cars with help from Swedish families who test its cars on the public roads of Gothenburg and feed back their impressions to Volvo Cars engineers. The company calls the exercise Drive Me project.
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. Drive Me will involve real customers testing the different stages of driver assisted and eventually fully autonomous technology.
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.
The Hains and the Simonovskis have received Volvo XC90s fitted with Volvo’s latest driver assistance technology as well as an array of cameras and sensors to monitor their behavior and provide the car with information on its surroundings.
During these first stages, the families will keep their hands on the steering wheel and supervise the driving at all times when using their cars. But, over time, all participants in the Drive Me project will gradually be introduced to more advanced assisted driving cars, after receiving special training.
Even then, testing these more advanced cars will initially take place in controlled environments with supervision from a Volvo Cars safety expert. No technology will ever be introduced if there is any question over its safety, the company claims.