Volvo self-driving prototypes are back on the road and this time the Swedish carmaker will be testing them on its home turf. As informed by Veoneer with whom Volvo has partnered to develop self-driving vehicles, the joint venture (JV) has been permitted by the Swedish government to conduct the tests on country highways. Veoneer also informed that it will be testing the Zenuity software for Level 4 autonomous driving (the second highest level) in the Volvo cars and have appointed trained drivers for this purpose.
The drivers will test the software with their hands off the steering wheel and will not exceed the speed limit of 90 kmph. The JV is trying hard to keep up with rivals such as Waymo who won the first approval last year to conduct tests of autonomous vehicles without drivers on the public roads of California. However, getting permission has been a challenge for Volvo after the fatal accident that involved a self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV which was being tested by Uber using its own software. After the incident, Volvo was only allowed to test the self-driving vehicles with a trained driver with one hand required being on the steering wheel. It wasn't even allowed to speed over 60 kmph.
Nishant Batra, Chief Technology Officer, Veoneer said, "The approval to do real-life tests was essential for gathering important data and test functions. It is a strong proof-point for the progress of Zenuity's self-driving capabilities." Moreover, Thomas Jonsson, a Veoneer spokesman said that it was too early to say when Zenuity could potentially test without a safety driver.
The Zenuity software was developed by Volvo and Veoneer in 2017 and is expected to have its first driver assistance products available for sale this year with autonomous driving technologies joining in shortly.