Volvo breaks new ground with amazing new self-driving car tech


Get out of the car and it will park on its own

It's quite unnerving watching an empty Volvo V40 glide around a car park and then slide into a bay with immaculate precision. But it's also the one technology here that's frankly a bit faked.

It's not coming soon to any production Volvo and the demo was essentially pre-programmed rather than the car negotiating the car park on the fly.

Volvo's demos also showed there's more to these advanced safety systems than just robo-driving. Another major aspect is car-2-car and car-2-infrastructure comms.

Car-2-car comms

The idea here is to keep cars updated with various safety critical info. One example is an icy patch on the road. Once detected by one vehicle, the location of the dangerous patch can be shared either directly car-2-car or uploaded to a cloud database so that all connected cars are aware of the hazard.

This kind of system can also be used, for instance, to warn drivers that an emergency vehicle is approach before the driver can see or hear it. Volvo showed us demos of both examples.


Cars will talk to each other to exchange crucial info

Overall, it's a very impressive package and it puts Volvo in a unique position. For many of the big German brands, the transition to autonomous driving is proving tricky.

They all know that robocars are the future. But in this transistional period, shaping the message to customers is a challenge. How do you pitch the whole autonomous driving thing when the core proposition of your product line up is a superior driving experience?

Also, how do you tell customers about the benefits of robocars without inferring that drivers are a talentless, murderous bunch?

Welcoming our new autonomous overlords

What's notable about Volvo, then, is how unambiguously it's embracing these robo-driving technologies. It's absolutely up front about the fact that taking driving responsibility away from humans will reduce deaths and casualties.

For the mainstream media, that's not an obvious message. Even during our time in Sweden, there were journalists seemingly obsessed with what happens when the technology goes wrong rather than the huge safety benefits it will bring.

But eventually the public will come round to the idea of autonomous cars. When they do, Volvo will have established itself as one of the pioneers. And that can only be a good thing.

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Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.