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2023 March
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Car and Driver: Hands on the Wheel (At Least Sometimes): Volvo Aims for Partial, Not Full, Autonomy


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Volvo Auto Pilot


Whenever senior auto executives sit down to talk with journalists it’s only a matter of time—often mere nanoseconds—before somebody asks about autonomy. When the subject came up with Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson, he was happy to give some impressively straight answers on the subject. “We have no ambition to have a car that could drive in urban environments from A to B,” Samuelsson said at the unveiling of the new 40-series concepts—in what’s close to a flat contradiction of the promises of Jetson-level self-driving other automakers say they’re working towards.


“If you’re a normal consumer is that really what you are dreaming about?” he asks. “We believe more that in a situation where it’s not really fun to drive you can switch on the autopilot and then sit back and do something else, use that time more productively. That is the product that we are developing.”


Volvo’s system also is closer to market than the more advanced systems being developed by Volkswagen and Nissan, maybe even Tesla. Volvo will begin a wide-scale trial of its Intellisafe Autopilot next year, with 100 XC90s equipped with the system being driven on Swedish roads, along with smaller pilot programs elsewhere. We’re told to anticipate production versions well within the current model cycle.


Another difference comes on the thorny issue of liability. Other automakers have said that drivers will retain at least partial responsibility for anything that happens while the car is in charge of itself, but Samuelsson says Volvo will stand fully behind its system:


“If you want to be in that market, you have to take that liability. If you’re not ready to do that then you must do something else. Volvo would not market something you can switch on and then relax if it’s not a redundant system which is absolutely safe and secure.”


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