Year After Phoenix Volvo Claims Production Ready AV

Volvo is claiming it has developed a production-ready autonomous Uber taxi little more than a year after one if its test mules killed a cyclist in Phoenix, Arizona.

This statement comes some three years after the two companies entered a joint engineering agreement to develop several prototypes aimed at accelerating the self-driving car development. The Volvo XC90 SUV presented this week is the first production car to employ Uber’s bespoke self-driving system claiming to be able to fully drive itself albeit with a human ‘Mission Specialist’ at the helm.

This is a particularly bold claim coming just a few months after results of data demanded by the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles revealed Uber admitted that its test vehicles required human intervention every mile they were driven on public roads.

Yet, Volvo, has expressed confidence in its XC90’s autonomous drive-ready production vehicle it claims to have several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions, as well as battery back-up power. It adds that If any of the primary systems should fail, the back-up systems are designed to immediately act to bring the car to a stop. In addition, an array of sensors on top and built into the vehicle claim to allow the self-driving system to operate and maneuver in an urban environment.

The carmaker envisages a time when the self-driving system may one day allow for safe, reliable autonomous ride-sharing without the need for a Mission Specialist, operating and overseeing the car in areas designated and suitable for autonomous drive. Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo, said: “We believe autonomous-drive technology will allow us to further improve safety, the foundation of our company. By the middle of the next decade, we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous. Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies.”

Volvo plans to use a similar autonomous base vehicle concept for the introduction of future autonomous drive cars in the early 2020s. Based on the SPA2 vehicle architecture, the cars will be designed to drive autonomously in clearly designated areas such as highways and ring roads.

Until reliable driverless technology is ready for mass adoption, Volvo sees early renditions of the systems can offer customers a better driving experience by taking away mundane tasks such as stop-start driving in traffic jams.

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

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *