Volvo Cars has announced plans to expand its driverless car trials to China, revealing that in the coming months it will begin negotiations with interested cities.
The leading car manufacturer - now owned by Chinese carmaker Geely - is already working towards a 2017 launch of its Drive Me project in which 100 of its customers will drive IntelliSafe Autopilot-equipped XC90s on popular commuter routes in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.
Now Volvo plans a similar size trial with ordinary drivers in China, and will negotiate to see which cities are ‘able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead’.
'Autonomous driving can make a significant contribution to road safety,' Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo said.
‘The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.’
Mr Samuelsson encouraged China to do more to try to speed up the implementation of the regulations that will oversee autonomous driving cars in future.
He also welcomed moves by regulators and carmakers in the US and Europe to develop AD cars and infrastructure, but called on different nations to work together ‘to avoid patchwork global regulations, technological duplication and needless expense’.
‘There are multiple benefits to AD cars,’ said Mr Samuelsson, ‘that is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.’
Matthew Avery, head of research at Thatcham - experts in vehicle safety technology, vehicle security and crash repair - said this was part of Volvo Car’s ‘journey towards a crash free future’.
The manufacturer has made a commitment that ‘no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020’.
Mr Avery said: ‘Volvo has now designed a complete systems solution. Multiple radars, cameras, a laser and ultra sonic sensors, monitor a complete 360 degree view of the surroundings. A network of computers process the information, high performance GPS and a cloud based 3d digital map continuously update with real time changes in the traffic environment. If anything fails there is a back up solution, just like in an aeroplane. That is a vehicle you can drive feet off, hands off, eyes off.'
Driverless technology could have a large impact in China, which has a notorious problem with extreme pollution and a terrible safety record — more than 200,000 people die in road accidents in China every year.