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Volvo Cars to launch UK’s ‘largest and most ambitious autonomous driving trial’ from 2017

Billed as “the UK’s largest and most ambitious autonomous driving trial”, the UK-based test will be called ‘Drive Me London’ and will be used to help develop AD cars that are suitable for real-world driving conditions.

Drive Me London will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 AD cars, making it the largest and most extensive AD testing programme on Britain’s streets.

“Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved.”

Thatcham Research will be providing the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.

“Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop ‘out of the loop’ for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research.

“Without doubt, crash frequency will also dramatically reduce. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on many new cars. Research in the US by NHTSA predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80%. Additionally, if a crash unfortunately can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance – reducing the severity of the crash.

“This is a landmark trial in the development of autonomous driving. The data collection and analysis will for the first time provide real world insights into how drivers actually react to autonomous driving in actual road conditions,” he added.

The technology will also be outlined by Mr Samuelsson at a seminar sponsored by Volvo and Thatcham, the insurance industry’s research organisation, in London next month. The event, entitled ‘A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – Implications for the Insurance Industry’, is being at the America Conference Centre in London on 3 May.

“There are multiple benefits to AD cars,” said Mr Samuelsson. “That is why governments globally need to put in place the legislation and infrastructure to allow AD cars onto the streets as soon as possible. The car industry cannot do it all by itself. We need governmental help.”

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Natalie Middleton

Natalie has worked as a fleet journalist for nearly 20 years, previously as assistant editor on the former Company Car magazine before joining Fleet World in 2006. Prior to this, she worked on a range of B2B titles, including Insurance Age and Insurance Day.