Volvo's self-driving car project aims to put customers into 100 autonomous vehicles by 2017, the automaker announced today.
"We are entering uncharted territory in the field of autonomous driving," Peter Mertens, senior vice president of research and development for Volvo Group, said in a statement. "Taking the exciting step to a public pilot, with the ambition to enable ordinary people to sit behind the wheel in normal traffic on public roads, has never been done before."
The pilot project is in reality a bit tamer than it sounds since the first self-driving Volvo cars will navigate carefully selected roads that are free of traffic, bicycles and pedestrians.
But Volvo's Drive Me program is still an important step forward as automakers inch closer to a world where cars drive themselves.
The Swedish automaker says it has developed a "complete production-viable autonomous driving system" that uses radars, cameras and laser sensors to take in a 360-degree view of the vehicle's surroundings in real time.
"The key to making this unprecedented leap is a complex network of sensors, cloud-based positioning systems and intelligent braking and steering technologies," the company said in a statement.
The auto-pilot system will be able to control "every aspect of driving" when in self-driving mode, and it will be ready for everyday consumers, Volvo said. The vehicles can also be taken over by their human drivers in case of an emergency.
"It is relatively easy to build and demonstrate a self-driving concept vehicle, but if you want to create an impact in the real world, you have to design and produce a complete system that will be safe, robust and affordable for ordinary customers," Erik Coelingh, technical specialist for Volvo, said in a statement.
The plan is that the first 100 autonomous Volvo vehicles will be driven by customers around Gothenburg, Sweden, by 2017.