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Volvo to unload 100 self-driving cars onto city streets

Looking to become a leader in the autonomous vehicle game, the Swedish-based company unveils a new pilot project dubbed "Drive Me."

Volvo plans to bring 100 self-driving cars to Sweden's roads. Volvo Car Group

While Google's self-driving car has garnered most of the headlines, a handful of car companies are also working on their own renditions of autonomous vehicles. Volvo is one of the latest car manufacturers to join this list.

The Swedish-based company announced Monday that it has launched a pilot project dubbed "Drive Me -- Self-driving cars for sustainable mobility," which will bring 100 self-driving Volvo cars onto city streets. The project will take place on about 50 kilometers of busy roads in the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

"Our aim is for the car to be able to handle all possible traffic scenarios by itself, including leaving the traffic flow and finding a safe 'harbor' if the driver for any reason is unable to regain control," Volvo technical specialist Erik Coelingh said in a statement. "Our approach is based on the principle that autonomously driven cars must be able to move safely in environments with non-autonomous vehicles and unprotected road users."

Volvo's goal for "Drive Me" is to target the "societal benefits" of autonomous driving and to position itself as a leader in this arena. One of its central objectives is to increase road safety -- something the car manufacturer has been working on for a while in a program it calls 2020 Vision.

The self-driving vehicles to be used in Drive Me are defined as "highly autonomous cars." This means the automobile can handle all driving functions the driver requires except for time-to-time scenarios that are a bit more tricky. The cars will also be able to self-park without the driver in the car. The first model to launch will be the all-new Volvo XC90, which will be unveiled in 2014.

Google has been leading the charge in developing self-driving technology over the past couple of years and now is said to be looking for car company partners. In the meantime, several automobile manufacturers have also gotten into various aspects of the autonomous driving game, including Audi, Mercedes Benz, Cadillac, Ford, Nissan, Delphi, Toyota, and Tesla.

Volvo's Drive Me project will start in 2014, but the first cars aren't expected on the road until 2017.