Volvo wants to bring self-driving pilot program to US

If a test launch in Sweden does well, Volvo could put everyday Americans behind the wheel of autonomous cars on public roads.

At the minimum, having a robot at the reins might prevent many of us from foaming at the mouth with rage at the thought of traffic.


Last week, Volvo announced a future program that will put ordinary Chinese citizens behind the wheel of autonomous vehicles on regular ol' roads. It's one of the most forward-thinking plans to date, but it's not limited to China. In fact, it's going to take place in Sweden next year, and it could come to the US after that.

Automotive News reports that Volvo discussed its plans for a US autonomous-driving program during the National Automobile Dealers Association conference in Las Vegas. Volvo CEO Lex Kerssemakers told a group that he'd like to initiate a US program similar to what's coming up in Sweden.

That Swedish program is called Drive Me, and it will kick off in Volvo's home city of Gothenburg. In 2017, 100 self-driving XC90 SUVs will take to a specific 31-mile route, with ordinary drivers behind the wheel. The pilot program is scheduled to end in 2019.

It's no surprise that the US would serve as an excellent test bed for autonomous driving, what with its horrific urban traffic and infrastructure that is far from perfect. But before that happens, Volvo would have to involve itself with the patchwork of autonomy laws that differ from state to state. Simply putting self-driving cars on roads could be illegal, depending on where it's done.