Self-driving Volvos in 2014

Thursday, 25 October 2012 12:01 PM

Volvo V40

The new Volvo V40 gets the self-drive tech to help take the 'grrr' out of traffic jams


I’m a big fan of the self-driving Volvos I’ve test-driven for TotallyMotor. In a crawling traffic jam – and in certain Volvos, like the new Volvo V40 – flick on the Adaptive Cruise Control, set the distance you want to keep behind the car in front, and let the Volvo do the work.

I tried it out in a big ‘n’ comfy V60 estate on a choked M6 and it worked faultlessly, braking and accelerating the V60 in time with the stop and start traffic in front. Very relaxing; taking the much of the annoyance out of the jam. But, I still had to operate the steering. But not for long, as Volvo announce a next step up in their self-driving models, for 2014.

For this future system, the driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically. The Adaptive Cruise Control is said to enable safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle in front, at the same time as the steering is also controlled.

"The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time," says Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Corporation.

It may sound like something out of the movies and I have to say that I was initially nervous about letting the car control my driving destiny – especially the braking. But I soon got used to it and relaxed right back into my big leather driver’s seat.

"Our aim is to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts and pioneering technologies that will reach actual customers. Making these features reliable and easy to use is crucial to boosting customer confidence in self-driving cars," continues Mertens.

Well, from what I’ve personally tested so far, I think Volvo is well away on the right track. And, by 2018, can we have a Volvo that scoops us out of bed, straight into a pre-warmed leather driver’s seat and with a bacon butty and a cup of tea gently wafting inside the armrest? Now that’s what I call progress!

Don’t try this in your X-reg Fiat Panda! 

By Daniel Anslow

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