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Volvo goes big with autonomous driving trials in China

POSTED BY Nigel Andretti ON 08 April 2016

VOLVO will launch a large-scale autonomous driving experiment in China in which local drivers will test autonomous driving (AD) cars on public roads in everyday driving conditions.

Volvo expects the experiment to involve up to 100 cars; in coming months, the automaker will begin negotiations with interested cities in China to see which is able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead.

“There are multiple benefits to AD cars. That is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help,” Volvo president and chief executive of Volvo, Håkan Samuelsson said.

Volvo believes the introduction of AD technology promises to reduce car accidents as well as free up congested roads, reduce pollution and allow drivers to use their time in their cars more valuably.

At a seminar held in Beijing this week, (“Autonomous driving – could China take the lead?”), Samuelsson welcomed the positive steps China has taken to put in place to develop autonomous driving technologies, but also encouraged it to do more to try and speed up the implementation of the regulations that will oversee autonomous driving cars in future.

The introduction of AD cars promises to revolutionise China’s roads in four main areas: safety, congestion, pollution and time saving. Independent research has revealed that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents very significantly.

Up to 90 percent of all accidents are also caused by human error, something that mostly disappears with AD cars.

In terms of congestion, AD cars allow traffic to move more smoothly, reducing traffic jams and by extension cutting dangerous emissions and associated pollution. Lastly, reduced congestion saves drivers valuable time.

Samuelsson welcomed moves by regulators and car makers in the US and Europe to develop AD cars and infrastructure, but also encouraged all the parties involved to work more constructively together to avoid patchwork global regulations, technological duplication and needless expense.

“AD is not just about car technology. We need the right rules and the right laws. It is natural for us to work together. Our starting point is that both the public and private sectors stand to benefit from new technologies and industries, so it is better to build bridges and work together than to all go in different directions.”

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