Fam­i­lies roped in for Volvo’s lat­est project


Volvo Cars has started de­vel­op­ing its au­ton­o­mous drive cars with help from Swedish fam­i­lies, who will test its cars on the pub­lic roads of Gothen­burg and feed back their im­pres­sions to the com­pany’s engi­neers.

The first two fam­i­lies, the Hains and the Si­monovskis from the Gothen­burg area, are now driv­ing XC90 SUVs as part of Volvo’s Drive Me project.

Three more fam­i­lies will fol­low early next year, and over the next four years up to 100 peo­ple will be in­volved.

Both fam­i­lies will con­trib­ute to Drive Me with data by al­low­ing engi­neers at the com­pany to mon­i­tor their ev­ery­day use and in­ter­ac­tion with the car, as they drive to work, bring the kids to school or go shop­ping for gro­ceries.

Volvo Cars plans to have a fully au­ton­o­mous car com­mer­cially avail­able by 2021, and the data de­rived from Drive Me will play a cru­cial role in its de­vel­op­ment.

Drive Me will in­volve real cus­tomers test­ing the dif­fer­ent stages of driver-as­sisted and even­tu­ally fully au­ton­o­mous tech­nol­ogy.

"Drive Me is an im­por­tant re­search project for Volvo Cars," says Hen­rik Green, se­nior vice pres­i­dent for the com­pany’s R&D de­part­ment.

"We ex­pect to learn a lot from en­gag­ing th­ese fam­i­lies and will use their ex­pe­ri­ences to shape the de­vel­op­ment of our au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech­nol­ogy, so that by 2021 we can of­fer our cus­tomers a fully au­ton­o­mous car."

The Hains and the Si­monovskis have re­ceived Volvo XC90s fit­ted with Volvo’s lat­est driver-as­sis­tance tech­nol­ogy, as well as an ar­ray of cam­eras and sen­sors to mon­i­tor their be­hav­iour and pro­vide the car with in­for­ma­tion on its sur­round­ings.

Dur­ing th­ese first stages, the fam­i­lies will keep their hands on the steer­ing wheel and su­per­vise the driv­ing at all times when us­ing their cars.

But over time, all par­tic­i­pants in Drive Me will grad­u­ally be in­tro­duced to more ad­vanced as­sisted-driv­ing cars, af­ter re­ceiv­ing spe­cial train­ing.

Even then, test­ing th­ese more ad­vanced cars will ini­tially take place in con­trolled en­vi­ron­ments with su­per­vi­sion from a Volvo Cars safety ex­pert.

The Hain fam­ily com­prises Alex and Paula (45 years old), and their daugh­ters Filippa (17) and Smilla (14). The Hains were the first peo­ple cho­sen to take part in Drive Me ear­lier this year.

They are now joined by Sasko Si­monovski (44) and his wife Anna (41), and their chil­dren Elin (10) and Vil­liam (8). Ad­di­tional fam­i­lies will be added as the project pro­gresses.

(Hain fam­ily): Volvo brain will be­come more self-aware as Drive Me project pro­gresses. Don’t be alarmed.

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