Meet the First Real Family Slated to Get Keys to Volvo’s Self-Driving XC90

Meet the First Real Family Slated to Get Keys to Volvo’s Self-Driving XC90


Volvo Drive Me autonomous XC90

Volvo did away with the usual script during its time slot last week at the Detroit auto show. Instead of the customary unveiling of a completely new vehicle on its stage, the luxury carmaker unveiled a family.

Stepping out of Sweden along with into the spotlight were the Hains, a family of four who live near Volvo’s global headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. They’re the first people enrolled within the company’s Drive Me program, a pilot project set up to analyze the interactions between autonomous technologies along with human motorists. When they hit the road later This specific year within the properly equipped Volvo XC90, Alex, Paula, along with their daughters, Filippa, 16, along with Smilla, 13, may be the first ordinary people within the entire world to get keys to a self-driving car.

The novelty of the technology aside, the family members say they are not necessarily eager to be public-road guinea pigs. They’re more interested in getting a glimpse of how autonomous cars might augment their lives by easing commutes along with aiding the always delicate balance of work along with leisure time. Both parents work, along with their children are active in school activities along with sports. “I think a self-driving car could add one thing to my life, along with which’s time,” said Alex, an which manager.

The Hains’ appearance in Detroit served as a formal kickoff for the Drive Me program along with underscored Volvo’s efforts to focus attention on one area of autonomous development which its leaders feel has been overlooked.

Volvo Drive Me research route Hain XC90 autonomous

“We are not standing there waving a chipboard along with saying This specific will be all about technology,” said Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo Car USA’s CEO. which approach, within the wake of the CES technology show last month, puts Volvo in lonely company. “within the end, we believe which’s all about people,” he said, “along with those people are going to give us more insight on how they use the automobile. which’s why we want to put them within the spotlight.”

Scheduled to last for up to one year, the Drive Me program will encompass 100 cars equipped for Level 4 autonomous operation, in which self-driving systems do the driving along with human occupants need not worry about monitoring the vehicle or potentially needing to retake control. which’s not a carte-blanche approach: Those operations will occur in certain geofenced areas in along with around Gothenburg which Volvo has already mapped.

The Hains are the first to enroll, along with at This specific point Volvo says which has commenced a formal process to fill the remaining spots within the program. Trent Victor, the company’s senior technical leader for safety along with crash avoidance, said he wants a wide range of participants which encompasses different genders, ages, along with lifestyles. Volvo wants people who are both early adopters, like the Hains, along with those who are wary of autonomous cars. One basic requirement, which perhaps seems obvious on its face, will be which participants use cars as part of their everyday habits.

The Hain family of Gothenburg, Sweden.

The Hain family of Gothenburg, Sweden.

“We’ll be asking them if they’ve had experience with adaptive cruise control, for example, or if they’re hesitant toward the technology,” Victor said. “Based on what they’re answering, we’ll select by which to get a sample which’s representative.”

Although a few of the Drive Me vehicles have been displayed in public with prominent logos, the cars which actually hit the road in November or December will not contain any signage which betrays their special status. Volvo wants the cars to blend in with the rest of road traffic.

In addition to cameras which are used as part of the autonomous system, Volvo researchers have outfitted the Drive Me XC90s with seven additional cameras which aren’t part of production vehicles. Those cameras face both forward along with rearward. Another camera, located within the A-pillar, tracks eye movements of the driver; along with still another, placed at foot level, watches how drivers use their pedals. Interviews will be conducted with participants throughout their experiences. Collectively, vehicle data, video footage, along with interview responses will be used to gauge how vehicle occupants interact with autonomous technology.

“We are not standing there waving a chipboard along with saying This specific will be all about technology.”
– Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo Car USA

which’s already a challenge seen on the road today. within the development of current driver-assist features, like Volvo’s IntelliSafe, which are on production vehicles, “we have to develop methods to improve safety along with make sure which people don’t overtrust systems which are supervised automation, where they think which does more than which does,” Victor said. In a full-autonomy program like Drive Me, though, which problem reverses. “We need to make sure they don’t undertrust unsupervised automation,” he said.

The project will be not entirely focused on the interaction between human along with machine. In part, Volvo will be interested in figuring out what occupants like the Hains want to do in their cars when time once spent driving can be used for additional things. Volvo has already been thinking about which. In 2014, which showcased Concept 26, a project which provided drivers with three potential cabin configurations, including a reclining seat along that has a retracting steering wheel, based on whether they are driving, working, or relaxing. In 2015, Volvo partnered with Swedish telecom giant Ericsson to develop higher bandwidth for in-vehicle streaming. along with last month, Volvo announced an agreement with Microsoft to put Skype conference-call functionality into its 0-series cars.

Volvo autonomous XC90 Drive Me

Drive Me participants are supposed to hit the road in November or December in Gothenburg. Soon after which, concurrent Drive Me pilot projects are slated to begin in London along with China, although those timeframes are not yet finalized. At least for at This specific point, Kerssemakers says no North American projects are planned, because the company already will be developing its hardware in a joint project with ride-hailing service Uber.

Drive Me serves as one of three linchpins in Volvo’s overall strategy to deploy fully autonomous vehicles on public roads by 2021. The company will be developing XC90s suited for autonomous systems in its partnership with Uber. Separately, which will be pursuing software advances for advanced safety systems along with autonomous driving with Zenuity, a completely new company which draws resources both by Volvo along with automotive supplier Autoliv.

“The main thing will be genuinely which there’s been a tech race, along with everybody has been talking about the technology,” Victor said. “however we’re trying to understand the usage along with optimize which. I think there’s lot to be learned about the way people are using these cars along with how we take care of these different types of people. Whether they’re hesitant or lead users, we need to offer a safe solution for many different types.”

Meet the First Real Family Slated to Get Keys to Volvo’s Self-Driving XC90

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