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Sensors and lasers will help Volvo's self-driving cars stay on the road

Loek Essers | Feb. 23, 2015
A complex network of sensors, lasers and a cloud-based positioning system are part of a plan from Volvo Cars to have 100 self-driving cars on the road by 2017.

The cars are also connected to a cloud service at the traffic authorities' control center via a communication link. That link is used to get the latest map data and traffic information to the car. The cars will prompt drivers to take over from the autopilot in certain circumstances, including extreme weather, malfunction or when they reach the end of a programmed route. If drivers do not respond, the cars will find a safe place to stop.

One of the biggest challenges is to design autopilots that can deal with emergency situations, as the driver cannot be expected to suddenly intervene, Volvo said. Therefore, initially, the cars will drive autonomously on selected roads with suitable conditions, like highways for example without oncoming traffic, cyclists and pedestrians.

By 2017, the public pilot in collaboration with legislators, transport authorities and the city of Gothenburg should be a reality.

 

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