Volvo CEO: we must work together to build autonomous cars


The public and private sectors must work together worldwide to exploit autonomous cars as soon as possible. The new Volvo Nordic should be useable as a template for the rapid introduction of autonomous driving (AD), said Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson at a seminar on AD in Sweden.

“Autonomous driving has the potential to revolutionise car safety. This technology saves lives. AD also improves traffic flow, enhances air quality and saves people time. This technology should be introduced as quickly as possible. The best way to do this is to get everyone involved working together at the earliest opportunity,” Mr. Samuelsson stated.

Swedish parliament

Mr. Samuelsson made the comments at a seminar entitled ‘A Future with Self-Driving Cars – Threat or Opportunity?” at the Swedish parliament in Stockholm, which brought together Volvo Cars, Swedish car safety supplier company Autoliv, leading Swedish technology and engineering university Chalmers, prominent commentators on AD technology and senior Swedish politicians.

Mr. Samuelsson welcomes moves by regulators and car manufacturers in the US and Europe to develop AD cars and infrastructure, but he will encourage all parties involved to work more constructively together to avoid patchwork regulations, technological duplication and needless expense.

Harmonised technologies

“AD is not just about car technology. We need the right roads, the right rules and the right laws. We also need to ensure AD technologies are harmonised as much as possible to avoid unnecessary development costs, so that an AD car in the US is as safe and as legal as an AD car in Europe or Asia,” the chief executive said.

Volvo thinks both Europe and the US have made important strides towards encouraging AD technologies. But they see the EU remaining hamstrung by individual responsibilities to its 28 members while the US is similarly constrained by the potential for all 50 US states to introduce their own AD regulations.

Nordic Model

Sweden has enjoyed a long tradition of functioning relationships between the public and private sectors, something that has enhanced productivity, avoided industrial disputes and led to the rapid and effective introduction of rules, regulations and infrastructure to support new technologies. This system has become known as the Nordic Model.

“It is natural for us to work together,” Mr. Samuelsson stated. “Our starting point is that both the public and private sectors stand to benefit from new technologies and industries, so it is better to build bridges and work together than to all go in different directions.”

Volvo Cars is working with public and private sector partners on the world’s largest and most advanced public AD technology project, entitled ‘Drive Me’, which involves 100 real Swedish families in Gothenburg using AD cars on real roads. Volvo is currently working alongside Autoliv, Chalmers, the national Swedish government and the local government in Gothenburg on this project.

No more injuries by 2020

“From the outset we knew that we could not do it alone,” Samuelsson told the attendees. “We needed to bring partners on board. Our motivation for doing so is simple. This is a technology that can save lives, clean the air, make cities less congested and free up time for people. Who would not want that in place as soon as possible?”

Volvo claims to be a pioneer when it comes to the regulation of autonomous driving. The car manufacturer stated in the US last year that Volvo will accept full liability whenever one of its cars is in autonomous mode, making it one of the first car manufacturers in the world to make such a promise.

Volvo regards autonomous driving as a key element in its drive to implement its Vision 2020, which states that by the year 2020, no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.

Author: Lars Verpalen

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