Volvo is joining the likes of Google and Apple by introducing their own self-driving car. The company is close to having 100 autonomous cars out on the road by 2017. Volvo recently revealed details on the vehicles and how they work.
Volvo is calling their self-driving car program Drive Me with plans for a 100 cars in the initial fleet. Currently, Drive Me cars will only be available to residents in the auto maker’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.
How do these self-driving cars work? A variety of sensors guide the car through Gothenburg’s highways. Drivers will need to steer their vehicles onto and off of the highways. They’ll also have to take over if they run into inclement weather. These sensors include laser scanners, radar, optical cameras and sonar. Each of these work together to constantly look 360 degrees around the car.
The vehicle’s sensors not only allow the car to detect real-time obstacles, but also allows it to read speed limit signs and road markings. All of this information augments the vehicle’s GPS positioning and 3D high-resolution map. Through a wireless system, the vehicle can communicate with Gothenburg’s traffic control to get traffic updates in real-time.
If unforeseen circumstances or bad weather should arise, Gothenburg city can shut off the car’s autonomous functionality and let the drive resume control.
Most of the systems that will run these autonomous cars are already in Volvo cars today. And the auto maker built-in a series of fallbacks to ensure that even if the systems fail, the car will still drive itself. Volvo says it used the aircraft industry for inspiration for these vehicles.
Volvo plans to have 100 of their self-driving cars on Gothenburg streets by 2017. The car maker is already in talks with municipalities all over the world to start implementing their self-driving cars in the near future.