Tony O'Kane | Apr 8, 2016

If you've ever searched for "Chinese dash cam" on Youtube, you'll know that urban China can be a dicey place to drive for any person - which is part of the reason why Swedish manufacturer Volvo reckons its the perfect environment to test the self-driving cars of the future.

Volvo plans to release up to 100 autonomous test vehicles onto public roads in China as part of the biggest autonomous driving experiment to take place in the country. The end goal: safer cars that can self-navigate through crowded city streets without a driver at the helm.

“There are multiple benefits to autonomous cars,” said Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson.

“That is why governments need to put in place the legislation to allow autonomous cars onto the streets as soon as possible.

"The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

With China's central government system helping to speed up legislative changes and easier to cooperate with than multiple state governments, governmental assistance for the trial should be easy to find for Volvo - which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely.

China's rising uptake of motor vehicles and its high population density in cities will also provide a unique challenge for Volvo's engineers, but the company says autonomous vehicles could help "revolutionise China's roads" by helping improve not only safety, but congestion, pollution and productivity through time saving.

Over the next few months Volvo will negotiate with a number of Chinese cities to see which will provide the necessary support for the trial to go ahead, after which Volvo's test fleet will be released into everyday Chinese traffic, driven by "local drivers".

It will likely be some time before the technology developed as part of the trial filters through to the brand's road cars, but Volvo states its autonomous experiments in China will have a direct impact on its goal to reduce the amount of fatalities involving Volvo vehicles to zero by 2020.

Until then, motorists should be able to get a taste of Volvo's autonomous future in the new S90 sedan, which will be available with a semi-autonomous highway drive mode that will self-steer and maintain safe clearance from other traffic without driver intervention.

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