Volvo announces London trial of self driving cars

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Volvo is planning to supply 100 London families with an XC90 equipped with its latest autonomous vehicle technology. Volvo says the tests – part of its Drive Me initiative – will pave the way for a ‘revolution’ on British roads, addressing safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.

“Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” said Volvo president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson. “The sooner [self driving] cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.” In fact, Volvo contends that, by 2020, no one will be seriously injured or killed in one of its cars.

The London Drive Me programme is expected to start in early 2017, with a limited number of semi-autonomous cars before expanding in 2018 to 100 fully autonomous vehicles.

It’s not long ago that driverless cars were regarded as science fiction. But a range of developments have brought the concept much closer to reality, with perhaps the best known example being the Google self driving car.

However, will such cars become the exception, rather than the rule? A survey conducted by IAM RoadSmart – formerly the Institute of Advanced Motorists – has found that more than 65% of motorists say a human should always be in control of a vehicle. The survey also found that 53% of respondents thought the focus should be on making drivers safer, not just cars.

Sarah Sillars, chief executive of IAM RoadSmart said: “Technological advances that make driving and riding safer for all road users have to be embraced wholeheartedly – but British motorists and our members do want the right to drive.”

Asked whether they would consider using a driverless car, 32% of respondents said ‘yes’, while 38% said ‘no’. Asked whether they thought driverless cars would be the norm on UK’s roads within … years, 22% said ‘yes’. But 55% thought driverless cars would never be the norm.

According to figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI), 90% of road traffic accidents are caused by human error and it contends that advances in technology towards autonomous vehicles will have huge implications on road safety.

Autonomous emergency braking, in which the brakes are applied automatically if the driver does not respond in time, has already been proven to cut the number of low speed collisions resulting in personal injury claims by around 20%, says ABI.