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CNET News Video: Volvo's self-driving car test ride through the streets in Sweden
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CNET News Video: Volvo's self-driving car test ride through the streets in Sweden

5:04 /

Volvo plans to start selling autonomous cars in 2017, but it's already testing them today. We make the trip to Sweden to take one of the company's prototypes for a spin.

[MUSIC] Cars that can take care of themselves are, pretty common place these days, in fact, every car that's on the market right now has traction control and stability control built in. Even self driving cars are not that rare, every manufacturer is working on some sort of an autonomous technology, because they know. That's the future, but what is rare is the opportunity to actually get into one of those cars and take it on the open road. And that is why we've come all the way to lovely Gothenburg, Sweden, and some lovely spring weather to test drive this. This is the Volvo drive me program. It's is a car that can drive itself. So we're inside the self driving car now. We're being shadowed by this ridiculous six wheeled Volvo up ahead of us, which is kind of crazy. But we're actually here to talk about this car. Here with Stefan. Now Stefan, this is a self driving car, but I notice that you're actually driving the car. Why is that? Well, the concept is, basically, that you are at work and now you want to go home to drive home. What will happen is that you are going to drive the vehicle to the piece of road which is certified, where you can switch on your autonomous functionality. So we're gonna get through the center of the city, basically get out to the highway, which is probably the most congested part anyway. And at that point you can hit a button and relax, right? Right. Can you tell me about what sort of things we've added on this car to enable. Self driving. So what we have added to this car in particular is basically software. It is exciting because, as I said, we are using technologies which are very mature. We have the vision up here. We have a laser sensor to the right of it, and then we have a radar in the front. So, it's basically the same stuff as on Volvo cars. Right now. It's something that you can buy every Volvo, every Volvo car has an option package. So I'm just pushing the plus button, releasing the steering wheel, and the pedals and it's not more than dramatic than that. [LAUGH] Now the car is holding about 70 kilometers an hour. Is it going to maintain. The speed limit? Yes. Okay. One of the main benefits of autonomous driving safety, now, only by having these vehicles really following the speed limits that you're having on their road, already that, will impact the safety on the roads. So there are a few things that you still need to do as a driver if you're in the car. One thing is changing lanes. It can't change lanes for itself. And there is no infrastructure to vehicle communication just yet so if there is somebody working on a road or that kind of thing right now you'll need to manually steer around that. But again that's a kind of thing that should be in place by. By 2017 when these cars are available for consumers and the other thing is it can't quit merge just yet either but, again,early days it is still just a prototype. What you could do is that you can put all existing infrastructure as you have here. For instance you can put one more lane which is much narrower, in that way you can. You can increase the capacity of the road. And one of the things that we are looking at is for instance lane markings. These are the type of infrastructure support that we really hope to have, the work. That was, they, they almost collided. This is something that the car would not do. Today, but it's also something that should be implemented by 2017. What we are going to have in 2017, again, the plan is that the vehicle should be able to take you on this route, from a to b, in a safe manner. This is not that far. This is a [INAUDIBLE] a prototype. But the idea is that, by 2017, we'll have 100 [INAUDIBLE]. And you will be able to do something else. [UNKNOWN] Mm hm. Now what good is a self-driving car if you have to park it yourself? That's no fun at all. Thankfully, Volvo's got you covered there, too. All you need to do is stop your car, get out, pull out your smartphone, an iPhone in this case, hit a button and the car will find a parking space for itself. The car uses pretty standard technology that's already found on a lot of Volvo's on the road today. Camera's looking forward, radar sensors, and also ultrasonic sensors in the bumpers and fenders to detect where those parking spots are and to make sure that it doesn't back up a little bit too far and run into the car behind it. When you're done, and you're ready to get your car back. All you need to do is take your phone out of your pocket, and hit a button. Self driving cars and self parking cars. It's impressive stuff. But probably, what's even more impressive is that Volvo's doing all this with really just the sensors that are already built in production cars today. Yeah, there's some GPS thrown on the roof there, but ultimately that's not really needed for the system. It's just basically a safety blanket, in case something goes wrong. This car as is, is really just a development program, it's the brains in side that is what this is working on. And by 2017, some people will be able to buy this car. But for now, I'm going to try to take this thing for a spin. It's more my speed. If I can find the keys. [MUSIC]

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