Volvo has announced the first family that will take part in its real-life driverless car research programme as the Hain family from Gothenburg, Sweden.
At this week's Detroit Motor Show, Volvo revealed that the Hains were the first people chosen to take part in its self-driving car project, Drive Me, as the company seeks to tailor its driverless technology to the role of the driver.
Drive Me is Volvo’s public self-driving car experiment that will see up to 100 autonomous cars take to the streets of Gothenburg, the car company's home, this year – all of them driven by real people faced with real traffic and road conditions.
The car company plans to expand the Drive Me programme to other cities around the world, including London.
Thanks to their participation in the project, the family is likely to play an important early role in the development of driverless cars, as manufacturers start to test out autonomous technologies on everyday people to understand how they interact with driverless vehicles and adapt to a real-life autonomous driving experience.
Håkan Samuelsson, President & CEO, Volvo Car Group, said: “We do things differently at Volvo Cars - we always have. Our main focus has always been on people and making their lives easier. Technology should improve the consumer experience making mobility safer, sustainable and more convenient.”
“The aim of the Drive Me research project is to focus on how to enhance people’s lives and have a positive impact on society”, said Henrik Green, Volvo's Senior Vice President, Research and Development.
“We take a holistic rather than a purely technical approach to our research and development processes. No one else to our knowledge is developing autonomous drive from a human-centric standpoint.”
The Swedish carmaker, which aims to have its first fully autonomous car on the market by 2021, believes that the Drive Me project is one of the most extensive real-life autonomous drive projects in existence.
“We want to learn more around how people feel when they engage and disengage autonomous drive, what the handover should be like, and what sort of things they would do in the car when it’s driving them to their destination”, said Green.
Volvo has recently partnered with ride-sharing company Uber to develop the base technology required for autonomous cars.
It has also announced a joint venture, Zenuity, with automotive safety supplier Autoliv, which aims to develop autonomous drive software and safety solutions for manufacturers.