Volvo and Google start testing self-driving cars on city roads

Article by Andrew Christian, on May 2, 2014

Volvo Car Group and Google Inc. have commenced testing self-driving cars on city streets – considered as crucial stage en route to the autonomous driving technology a standard in vehicles. Volvo said in a statement that it has commenced testing 100 cars on the streets near its Gothenburg base in Sweden under a project dubbed "Drive Me."

Erik Coelingh, technical specialist at Volvo, said in the statement that the test cars can now handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic -- all by themselves, He remarked the tests represent an important step onto developing ‘Drive Me’ that could drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode.

The technology – to be dubbed as Autopilot – allows the driver to let the vehicle do all the driving. Google said in a post on its official blog that in the past it has shifted its focus to city-street driving.

The company said that its driverless cars have driven thousands of miles on the streets of Mountain View, Calif., relying on video cameras, radar sensors, lasers and a database of information obtained from manually driven cars for navigation.

Chris Urmson, director of Google's self-driving car project, wrote in the blog post that a mile of city driving is more complex than a mile of freeway driving, since there are hundreds of different objects moving according to different road rules in a small area.

He said the Google improved its software to be able to detect hundreds of distinct objects simultaneously, including pedestrians, vehicles and even stop signs. Volvo and Google are just two of many companies -- like Nissan, Audi and Toyota -- testing self-driving car technology. [source: Volvo]

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