Volvo's on the verge of launching an intense autonomous-driving experiment. The automaker, under control of Chinese auto giant Geely, hopes to put autonomous cars on public Chinese roads with ordinary, local civilians "behind the wheel."
It's far from being set in stone, but progress is being made. Volvo hopes to get up to 100 cars involved in the program, all of which appear to be new XC90 crossovers, and it's going to begin talks with various Chinese cities to gauge interest and to "see which is able to provide the necessary permissions, regulations and infrastructure to allow the experiment to go ahead."
"Autonomous driving can make a significant contribution to road safety," said Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo, in an emailed press release. "The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help."
As for the level of autonomy involved, a Volvo spokesman said that the ambition is for the cars to be fully autonomous, but starting out, it's likely that some human interaction will be required. Clearly, the project isn't fully baked just yet. That said, Volvo likely wants to get the word out in order for public sentiment to play a factor as talks move forward.