Volvo plans first self-driving cars for 2014

Volvo is likely one of the first companies that comes to mind when you think about automotive manufacturers with a history of adopting new safety technology. 

The latest safety-related technology Volvo is pursuing? Self-driving tech. Of course, Volvo is hardly alone in eyeing such an initiative, as many auto manufacturers are conducting extensive research and development with regards to self-driving vehicles in an effort to help prevent accidents in traffic and less-than-stellar driving conditions.

However, Volvo has announced a rather lofty vision – to manufacture an accident free vehicle within seven years. As Anders Eugensson, Volvo’s head of government affairs recently said, “Our vision is that no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020.”

As such, Volvo has dedicated 50 engineers to working with automotive partners such as Cargo UK on self-driving automotive technology over the last several years. As noted above, other industry such as Ford and GM, are also working on self-driving tech. Typically, this autonomous technology would come into play by automatically handling steering, braking, and throttle application in specific situations such as navigating through heavy traffic.

Volvo has confirmed that it is preparing to launch its first batch of autonomous vehicles in 2014 which will be capable of autonomously piloting a vehicle at speeds of up to 31 mph. Although this may seem like a very low driving speed it makes a certain amount of sense, as the technology is initially targeted at reducing accidents in slow and heavy traffic.

While Volvo says it is dedicated to moving forward with autonomous driving technology at higher speeds, the company hasn’t specified a date of availability. However, Volvo did note that it has prototypes operating with thousands of test miles on the clock, mostly on public roads in Spain and on Volvo’s test track in western Sweden.

“We are convinced this is the future and we want to get there first,” Marcus Rothoff, head of developing Volvo’s driver assistance technology, said during a recent autonomous-driving event at a track in Hallered.