Volvo Plans Hands-Free Driverless Tech for California

Volvo plans to roll-out its first fully automated driving function to its next generation BEV vehicles sold in California.

Once the system has been verified for use on Californian highways, Ride Pilot is planned to be available as an add-on subscription on the company’s forthcoming fully electric SUV. This new flagship car for the company will be revealed later this year.

This will feature over-the-air software updates in combination with the company’s latest sensor suite. The software is developed by autonomous driving (AD) software company Zenseact together with Volvo’s in-house team of developers and developers from Luminar, one of its technology partners. The sensor set-up consists of more than two dozen sensors, including Luminar’s Iris LiDAR sensor five radars, eight cameras and 16 ultrasonic sensors in Volvo’s upcoming SUV.

While this software-sensor combination will be standard, Ride Pilot will be made available to customers only once it has gone through Volvo’s own verification and testing protocol. This includes validation of the technology as safe for use on highways in a number of varying conditions.

As part of this verification process, Volvo Cars is already testing autonomous driving functionalities on roads in Sweden, together with Zenseact, and collecting data across Europe and the US. By the middle of this year, the company intends to begin testing on roads in California pending local regulators’ permissions.

Mats Moberg, head of research and development at Volvo Cars, said: “We are proud to announce the planned US launch of our first truly unsupervised autonomous driving feature, as we look to set a new industry standard for autonomy without compromising safety. Having Zenseact’s brand-new AD software and Luminar’s LiDAR standard in our new fully electric SUV is a game-changer for Volvo Cars, as well as for automotive safety and autonomous driving.”

— Paul Myles is a seasoned automotive journalist based in Europe. Follow him on Twitter @Paulmyles_

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