Google, Volvo Test Drive Autonomous Cars on City Streets

Suddenly, the idea of autonomous driving has become a lot more tangible. Google and Volvo are each putting self-driving cars to the test on busy city roads. Google, which has previously limited its testing to mostly freeways, will now take its autonomous vehicles on city roads to see how they perform. This is a huge step for Google, and proving its cars can withstand the unpredictable nature of this type of driving will further its autonomous driving technology. To help in this effort, Google improved its software so that the cars can detect many objects at one time, whether it is a pedestrian, a bus, a cyclist, or a stop sign held up by a crossing guard. Google said its self-driving cars have now undergone thousands of miles of testing on city streets in Mountain View, Calif. Separately, Volvo is also venturing into the next phase of self-driving cars. It just began testing 100 self-driving vehicles on public roads in the Swedish city of Gothenburg. The tests, conducted on typical commuter pathways, are meant to replicate everyday driving conditions. "The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves," said Erik Coelingh, technical specialist at Volvo Car Group. “This public pilot will provide us with a valuable insight into the societal benefits of making autonomous vehicles a natural part of the traffic environment." The project, called "Drive Me," is also endorsed by the Swedish government. So far, Volvo's test cars are only used on a 31-mile stretch in the city. However, Volvo hopes that as the technology progresses, the car will be able to drive the entire test route by itself, handling all driving functions. Source: Google, Volvo