By Stewart Smith on 2016-04-27 - Stewart was the former motoring editor of the Coventry Telegraph and is now a freelance contributor to Eurekar. He is based in Scotland and specialises in First Drive reviews.
cars for London test
VOLVO is to begin the UK's most ambitious autonomous driving trial next year to speed up the introduction of a technology that promises to reduce accidents as well as free up congested roads and save drivers time.
The Swedish company, whose name has been synonymous with automotive safety ever since it invented the three-point seatbelt in 1959, is pioneering the development of autonomous driving (AD) systems globally.
The cars use sophisticated sensors and navigation devices allowing them to negotiate traffic without driver intervention.
It is part of a commitment from the car maker that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.
"Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety," said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. "The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."
Volvo's UK-based test will be called Drive Me London and will differentiate itself from other AD programmes by using real families driving AD cars on public roads.
Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and use this data to develop AD cars that are suitable for real-world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks.
Experts from motor vehicle technology organisation Thatcham Research will be providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.
Drive Me London will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 vehicles, making it the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain's streets.
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