Series of tests will involve 100 cars, and are likely take place in several cities across the country
Volvo says it will launch China’s “most advanced autonomous driving experiment” in which local drivers will test driverless cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions.
Volvo expects the experiment to involve up to 100 cars and will in coming months begin negotiations with interested cities in China to see which is able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead.
Volvo says it believes the introduction of autonomous driving technology promises to reduce car accidents as well as free up congested roads, reduce pollution and allows drivers to use their time in their cars more valuably.
The Swedish company, whose name has been synonymous with automotive safety ever since it invented the three-point seat belt in 1959, and reinforced doors in case of wayward elks some time later, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving systems as part of its self-proclaimed commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.
“Autonomous driving can make a significant contribution to road safety,” Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo will tell a seminar in Beijing on April 7 entitled Autonomous driving – could China take the lead?
“The sooner atonomous driving cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”
Samuelsson will welcome the positive steps China has taken to put in place to develop autonomous driving technologies, but will also encourage it to do more to try to speed up the implementation of the regulations that will oversee autonomous driving cars in future.
In extracts of his planned speech, which has been made available to the press, Samuelsson says: “There are multiple benefits to autonomous driving cars. That is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow autonomous driving cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”
Volvo says the introduction of autonomous driving cars will revolutionise China’s roads in four main areas – safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.
Independent research has suggested that autonomous driving has the potential to significantly reduce the number of car accidents. Some studies say that up to 90 per cent of all accidents are caused by human error, something that may be reduced with self-driving cars.
However, other studies show that the general public remains unconvinced, and is likely to want to wait longer than the auto industry would like before accepting autonomous driving technology is safe enough for public roads.
In terms of congestion, driverless cars are predicted to enable traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and by extension cutting dangerous emissions and associated pollution.
Samuelsson says he welcomes moves by regulators and car makers in the US and Europe to develop autonomous cars and infrastructure, but says he will also encourage all the parties involved to work more constructively together to avoid patchwork global regulations, technological duplication and needless expense.
“Autonomous driving is not just about car technology. We need the right rules and the right laws,” Samuelsson will tell the audience in his speech.
“It is natural for us to work together. Our starting point is that both the public and private sectors stand to benefit from new technologies and industries, so it is better to build bridges and work together than to all go in different directions.”