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Crossover buyers will be able to choose at least one car with true autonomy by 2021, says Volvo. The Swedes have been among the vanguard in autonomous testing and they plan to offer a level 4 autonomous crossover in just three years time.
According to Volvo’s Senior Vice President, Henrik Green, speaking to The Car Connection, the next generation XC90 will be capable of carrying “sleeping passengers” to their destination on limited roads with an eye to offering customers a “semi-automated commute.”
The feature will be called Highway Assist and would surpass any autonomous technology on the road today.
The highest level of driverless technology out there today is the Audi A8’s level 3 autonomous capability. That allows the car take over driving duties on some roads, under some conditions, but requires the drivers to be ready to intervene at all times. Under ideal circumstances, the driver could read a book during their commute.
Level 4, though, takes over driving duties completely and doesn’t require the driver to be ready to take over. Volvo argues that this is a safer way to handle autonomy since the handover of control from driver to car is the most fraught and uncertain part of the autonomous experience.
Volvo hasn’t revealed the details of how the system will work but, for argument’s sake, let’s assume that the XC90 will be able to take over driving duties on major divided highways. The handover from driver to car would be clear and well defined, with driving duties being handed over at on- and off-ramps.
Once on the major highway, the car would not require any intervention at all from a driver, using, Volvo says, lidar, radar, cameras and even cloud-based information to manage the task of driving.
As you might expect, it won’t be cheap. The feature would be a premium one on an already anything-but-cheap car and Green figures it will be a four-figure option, cost-wise.
That would be good, though, for Volvo’s brand new South Carolina plant which will be building the XC90 by the time the next-gen model arrives.
[source: The Car Connection]