Volvo Installs Magnets into Ground to Hone in on Self-Driving Car Accuracy

By Jacob Brown | March 11, 2014
While Volvo has nary brought an all-new product to the U.S. since 2010 or so, which is forever and a half in car years, the Swedish-Chinese automaker wants you to know that it's doing cool stuff. Darn it. Previewing its next-generation infotainment technology and gorgeous future styling direction last week at the Geneva Motor Show with the Volvo Concept Estate, the brand is out to make sure customers know big things are coming. But perhaps more important than its styling is what Volvo is doing with its next generation of autonomous driving technologies.
Undoubtedly, self-driving cars are coming sometime within the next decade for you, me, and whoever else will want to plunk down the money for it. Volvo is using magnets to see if it can hone the technology to get its accuracy where it wants to be--especially in inclement weather.
"The magnets create an invisible ‘railway’ that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimetre. We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising," says Jonas Ekmark, Preventive Safety Leader at Volvo Car Group, in a statement. Volvo says it is putting 100 autonomous cars onto Gothenburg, Sweden, roads, testing the technology alongside its radar- and GPS-based self-driving technology. The magnets should be able to complement the existing technologies to get the cars to become more accurate. In our eyes, we wonder just how effective a magnet-based system could be. While magnets are used for all sorts of transportation systems, from railways to roller coasters, getting a city or nation to install them into roads and maintain them so that they remain as strong, seems like quite a stretch, especially in the U.S., where we complain that taxes are too high and our roads are too shoddy. Yet, we don't compromise adjusting one to fix the other. Self-driving technology still has a ways to go before it sees prime time, but Volvo isn't putting all of its eggs into this basket with the hole in its bottom. Source: Volvo