Driverless Going Global

“Volvo Cars’ Drive Me pilot program announced last week will push autonomous driving a step closer to reality by putting 100 self-driving XC90 crossovers on Swedish streets by 2017.” This quote comes directly from an article published this morning, March 1, 2015, and shows that the idea of a driverless car isn’t going anywhere. We’ve had a few discussions in class about this topic and it seems that some of us were for this idea while others were a bit skeptical. Regardless of that fact, this article suggests that the driverless car is soon to be a reality whether we like it or not.

According to the article, Volvo will be testing their 100 driverless vehicles in their home town of Gothenburg, Sweden. These vehicles will have regular, everyday commuters driving them on a controlled 31 mile route. Much like the driverless systems being developed in the U.S. by companies such as Google and the program being developed by MIT, Volvo’s system “will use a network of sensors, cloud-based positioning systems and intelligent braking and steering technologies… that [will allow] the vehicle to take over steering, turning, braking and parking.”

While I am a bit nervous about this, it seems that companies are really trying to work all the kinks out to make this a safe option for people living in megacities and experiencing horrendous traffic. Volvo states that they know they must create a safe and affordable driverless car for the people of the world. For example, the systems that Volvo is designing allow the driver to take control in bad weather and if they do not take over, the car automatically knows to pull off the road and come to a stop.

As I said in class, I believe that these driverless vehicles that can speak to other vehicles and are aware of quicker routes are a great idea for making commutes into and around megacities more efficient. If they can work these systems out, and it appears they are getting much closer, I think that these autonomous cars could really help alleviate traffic issues in these major cities. And who doesn’t want to cut down their traffic time to work!

This article definitely demonstrates that autonomous cars are becoming a reality and not just in the United States. I fully expect to see more of the world’s major automotive producers announcing similar programs as this one. Volvo is showing that foreign companies are very interested in this system and this type of technology creating a path for the future of the car.

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