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Volvo to Put Self-Driving Cars on Public Roads

February 19, 2015

Photo courtesy of Volvo.
Photo courtesy of Volvo.

Volvo Cars is taking self-driving cars out of the research lab and putting them on public roadways in Sweden by 2017 during an next-level test of automated driving, the luxury automaker has announced.

Volvo will place 100 self-driving cars in the hands of ordinary drivers rather than automotive engineers for driving in normal traffic on selected roads around Gothenburg.

The Swedish automaker will launch the Drive Me pilot program in its hometown, as it continues to work with legislators, transport officials, and the local municipality. Volvo's autonomous vehicles use the Autopilot system that allows the vehicle to take over driving functions.

The system uses a collection of radar, cameras, and sensors to provide 360-degree awareness around the vehicle. Vehicle positioning is achieved with GPS and a high-definition 3D digital map that's updated in real time.

As part of the system, Volvo attaches a radar device and camera in the windshield that reads traffic signs and the road's curvature. It can also detect objects in the road. Four radar devices are placed behind the front and rear bumpers to locate objects in all directions. Cameras under the rear-view mirrors, in the rear bumper, and in the grille monitor objects in close proximity to the vehicle.

A multiple-beam laser scanner mounted in the front of the vehicle below the air intake can identify objects in front of the car and can distinguish between objects. The vehicle also includesa tri-focal camera (three cameras in one) in the windshield for improved depth perception; two long-range radar devices in the rear bumper to detect fast-moving vehicles from behind; and 12 ultrasonic sensors around the car to identify objects close to the vehicle.

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