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Volvo kick-starts self-driving program with civilian riders

The families' feedback will help Volvo fine-tune its system.


Volvo's ambitious Drive Me project is now underway, and instead of relying on researchers alone, the automaker is delivering special vehicles to a few lucky families.

Volvo has delivered the first pair of specially outfitted XC90 SUVs to two families in Sweden -- the Hains and Simonovskis. These families will provide the automaker with valuable first-person feedback on the cars, allowing the company to make adjustments to its self-driving system based on actual daily use like any other family on the road.

Hey, I'd be happy if a brand-new XC90 showed up at my door, too -- autonomous or not.


The two families won't be receiving self-driving cars right away. For now, they'll be driving the XC90s as traditional cars, albeit ones equipped with Pilot Assist, Volvo's suite of semi-autonomous driver aids.

As time goes on, though, Volvo will gradually introduce the families to increasing levels of autonomy, and they'll receive special instruction for learning how to operate more advanced assist systems at the same time. This will initially take place in controlled environments with a Volvo safety expert supervising, because safety is still the top priority.

The Hains and Simonovskis won't be the only families involved in Drive Me. Three more families will receive vehicles next year, and over the next four years, the pilot program will grow to include some 100 people.

Volvo intends to have a fully autonomous car available for purchase by 2021, and the feedback from those involved in Drive Me will play a big part in shaping the system before that time.