Gothenburg city in Sweden will embrace 100 Volvo cars equipped with the high level of automation in 2014. This initiative is directed at the regular citizens of the city that will become test pilots of the vehicles equipped with autonomous technology. For the test period, they will not be fully autonomous – it means that in some cases, the involvement of a man driver will be required.
The goal of the test is to collect the road data from the driven sites. Nevertheless, there’ll be no wide variety of the tracks that the cars will be allowed to run – the entire road interaction is planned to be limited only to 50-miles section of the most commonly used roads in Gothenburg city with over 0.5 million people population. These roads are mostly used by citizens to get to a place of job and to get home after.
The ultimate goals of the testing process are:
• to create a car that will be capable of handling the road situations of all kinds, including exiting from the stream of cars if a driver behind the steering wheel will not be able to take the control of a car when necessary or during the dangerous situation,
• to search and study for a social and economic benefit of implementing self-driving cars in the city from the point of view of public infrastructure, road safety, and driving security,
• to investigate the possible changes to the existing infrastructure and to understand how driverless cars actually influence the traffic jams – positively or negatively,
• to collect a set of typical road situations that car will be able to handle oneself,
• to understand and analyze what will be the interrelation of other drivers of simple cars on the roads to these ones and what’s the attitude of users to such cars will be.
Increasing safety is the final point to which all participants strive:
1. Volvo Cars.
2. The Swedish Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure.
3. The Swedish Transport Agency.
4. Lindholmen Science Park.
5. The municipality of Gothenburg.
They agreed to start such a project (submitted by Volvo) to develop the infrastructure not only in Gothenburg city but also in entire Sweden with time, to reach the unprecedented level of road safety and, eventually, to stop road fatalities that take human lives. Although Sweden is now considered one of the safest countries for drivers, it is never too much attention to that topic. As Håkan Samuelsson, CEO of Volvo tells, after the project’s completion, Volvo will try to become the world’s leader in innovative technologies, obtaining much technical information from the real users that will use the driverless vehicles on the daily basis. This will also allow studying the necessities of the drivers in the convenience of the interface to communicate with such cars.
Catharina Elmsäter-Svärd, Transport and Infrastructure Minister of Sweden, supports this opinion and goes even further. She tells that this innovative technology will be able to promote the creation of new jobs, and to make the cities’ infrastructure more intellectual, to communicate with these cars properly.
In addition to that, the autonomous vehicles are good because of:
• lowering the level of emissions
• increasing the road safety level
• increasing the quality of the air and water in the cities
• creating clean and environmentally-friendly transportation, including public one.
For the end users, the unmanned car will be profitable because of the following items:
a) increasing the personal efficiency of a driver, as now, with such a car, a person will be able to work during road, read the letters on his or her tablet, or entertain and rest, entrusting the management of the way to a car itself.
b) in the longer time distances, a person will be able to sleep during the ride, but this will take the implementation of fully autonomous vehicles, while these ones are not. They are currently classified as ‘the ones having a high degree of autonomy.’
High degree of autonomy allows a person behind the steering wheel to trust the way to a car completely in the favorable road conditions but he or she will still be necessary to take control on him/her when required, having enough time to do that after reception of warnings from the car before it departs lane and stops if a driver won’t be responsive.