The Swedish Transport Agency (Transportstyrelsen) recently granted the Swedish auto giant permission to begin real-world testing of its self-driving cars, boosting the company’s chances of meeting its stated goal of bringing the technology to market by 2021.
“This is one of the conditions we need to meet as we make our way toward self-driving cars, so this is naturally a positive step,” Johan Larsson, a spokesman for Volvo’s autonomous vehicles unit, told DI Digital.
Transport Agency documents obtained by Di Digital revealed that the self-driving cars will be allowed on motorways and streets in the Gothenburg area. The cars will not be allowed to exceed 60 kilometres per hour when the self-driving features are activated and drivers are required to keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times. Operators of the autonomous vehicles must also undergo training provided by Volvo.
The Transport Agency’s approval caps a lengthy process. Volvo announced in December 2017 that a select group of families had been chosen to test the company’s self-driving XC90s. The pilot programme then ground to a halt as Volvo was forced to provide additional documentation to the Transport Agency, according to Di Digital’s report.
It was not immediately clear if the newly-approved Gothenburg tests would only include the XC90 or if Volvo would be testing other models or projects from its autonomous vehicles unit.
Earlier this month, the Swedish company unveiled the futuristic concept car Volvo 360c, a fully autonomous, electric vehicle with no steering wheel that has been described as “a bedroom on wheels” and “an office-bed-living room mashup”.
“The business will change in the coming years and Volvo should lead that change of our industry,” company president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said in a press release announcing the 360c. “Autonomous drive will allow us to take the big next step in safety but also open up exciting new business models and allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”