Volvo Plans to Roll Out Self-Driving Cars in 2014

A wise man recently said, “Live in the future, then build what’s missing.” Admirably, Volvo is doing that. 

via Charles Duxbury and John D. Stoll at The Wall Street Journal

HALLERED, Sweden—Mired in losses, Volvo Car Corp. is staking its future on the equivalent of an automotive moon shot: promising by the start of next decade to sell vehicles that can avoid passenger injuries.

The 85-year-old company believes it can produce an accident free vehicle in just seven years. “Our vision is that no one is killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020,” said Anders Eugensson, Volvo’s head of government affairs.

Underpinning Mr. Eugensson’s optimism is a bet on increasing demand for driverless functionality in cars, and the emergence of technology that essentially eliminates the chance for driver error. Volvo won’t disclose its spending on the technology, which has been funded in part by the European Union. It has had 50 engineers working with automotive partners such as Ricardo U.K. on the technology over the last several years.

The company says it is preparing to launch in 2014 its first batch of autonomous vehicles capable of driving up to 31 miles per hour. The limited speed reflects the technology’s expected initial use in heavy traffic.

Volvo says it is working on higher-speed autonomous driving, but isn’t yet disclosing when it would be available. Its prototypes have run thousands of miles of test drives on public roads in Spain and on the company’s test track in western Sweden.

“We are convinced this is the future and we want to get there first,” Marcus Rothoff, head of developing Volvo’s driver assistance technology, said during a recent autonomous-driving event at a track in Hallered.

Read more in The Wall Street Journal.

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