The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

Volvo Making Strides in Development of Autonomous Driving Technology

October 23, 2012

GOTHENBURG, SWEDEN – Volvo Car Corp. has demonstrated a new autonomous driving system that helps thwart traffic jams.  The automaker said the system, in which a car automatically follows the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues up to 31 miles per hour, will be ready for production in 2014.

"This technology makes driving more relaxed in the kind of monotonous queuing that is a less attractive part of daily driving in urban areas. It offers you a safe, effortless drive in slow traffic," explained Peter Mertens, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo Car Corp.

The traffic jam assistance function has evolved from the current adaptive cruise control and lane keeping aid technology, which was introduced in the Volvo V40 earlier in 2012.

The driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically. The adaptive cruise control enables safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle in front, at the same time as the steering is also controlled.

"The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane," Mertens said. "However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time." 

Autonomous driving -- with steering, acceleration and/or braking automatically controlled by a vehicle that requires very little human interaction -- is a major focus area in Volvo development work.

"Our aim is to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts and pioneering technologies that will reach actual customers,” Mertens said. “Making these features reliable and easy to use is crucial to boosting customer confidence in self-driving cars." 

The low-speed traffic jam assistance system is the second technology for autonomous driving recently presented by Volvo Car Corp. A few weeks ago, the company demonstrated the SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), which focuses on platooning in highway and motorway traffic at speeds of up to 56 mph.

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