Last year, the company confirmed plans to test 100 autonomous cars on Swedish streets in a partnership with the city of Gothenburg and the Lindholmen Science Park.
Importantly, the program involves all of the key players in a real-world application of autonomous driving: legislators, transport authorities, a major city, a vehicle manufacturer and real customers.
Speaking on the system's ease of use, Volvo technical specialist Erik Coelingh said the driver can switch between 'normal' driving and autonomous modes with the push of a button.
“The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves,” Mr Coelingh said.
“This is an important step towards our aim that the final ‘Drive Me’ cars will be able to drive the whole test route in highly autonomous mode. The technology, which will be called Autopilot, enables the driver to hand over the driving to the vehicle, which takes care of all driving functions.”
Volvo said that the key difference between its autonomous vehicle project and those of other carmakers at present is the cooperation of the Swedish Transport Authority, the city of Gothenburg and real customers.
Those customers will 'drive' 100 cars in everyday road situations, including freeways, major arterial roads and stop-start city traffic.
“This public pilot will provide us with a valuable insight into the societal benefits of making autonomous vehicles a natural part of the traffic environment,” Mr Coelingh said.
“Our smart vehicles are a key part of the solution, but a broad societal approach is vital to offer sustainable personal mobility in the future. This unique cross-functional co-operation is the key to a successful implementation of self-driving vehicles.”
Volvo’s project update comes hot on the heels of Google, who announced it was also seeing success with its self-driving vehicles in city environments.
This could all be good news for consumers, with the two companies pushing the hardest for an autonomously-driven future now seemingly in an unofficial ‘race’ to get their products up and running.
Volvo has also been testing navigational road magnets, driver sensors and its driverless self-parking system during recent years, and the carmaker announced last year that it intends to sell 100 autonomous cars to customers in Sweden in 2017.
The all-new Volvo XC90, which Volvo describes as its first ‘highly-autonomous’ model, is set to be unveiled later this year.