Volvo has unveiled another major step on the road to self driving cars with the development of its IntelliSafe Auto Pilot a new interface for a smooth transition between normal driving and automated driving.
Using a 2016 XC90, Volvo has added steering wheel-mounted paddles that illuminate when the vehicle reaches a section of road that has been approved for autonomous driving. Legalised self-driving roads are also shown when a destination is programmed into the navigation system.
To engage the Auto Pilot, drivers place their hands on the paddles for a few seconds. The system then takes over for as long as the vehicle is on the approved road. When the car is nearing the end of the autonomous-approved road, it will begin a 60-second countdown before turning off Auto Pilot. In the instance that the driver is unable or unaware that the vehicle is ready to transition back to manual control, the vehicle comes to a safe stop.
Testing for the interface will take place in 2017 as part of the Drive Me project in Gothenburg. A group of 100 Auto Pilot-enabled Volvo XC90s will be driven on 30 miles of selected roads.
Volvo’s design head, Thomas Ingenlath said, “We have designed a user interface that is safe and seamless to use so that drivers can confidently transfer and regain control of the car.”
Whilst the technology developed by Volvo is fully functional, the regulations required to allow autonomous driving are not expected to be in place for several years. This means that 2020 has been set as a realistic date for such vehicles to be made available to the public.