Volvo ´moves closer´ to self-driving cars

The car industry´s journey towards autonomous motoring has been driven forward by a new traffic jam assistance system.

The new system - developed by Volvo - enables the car to automatically follow the one in front in slow-moving traffic. The sytem should be ready for production within two years.

Working at speeds of up to about 30mph the system has evolved out of current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced earlier this year on Volvo´s new V40 hatchback.

The touch of a button will enable the driver to use the system, enabling a vehicle´s engine, steering and brakes to respond to conditions automatically.

Peter Mertens, Volvo Car Corporation´s senior vice president research and development, said the technology would make driving more relaxed for motorists faced with boring, slow-moving traffic conditions, offering drivers a safe, effortless journey in slow traffic.

The development of self-driving vehicles with automatically controlled acceleration, steering and braking is of major interest to Volvo.

The company is seeking to take a lead in the field by delivering concepts and pioneering technologies to its customers through safe, reliable and easy to use features which would increase motorists´ confidence in self-driving vehicles.

An early prototype of the traffic jam assistance system was among the technologies given a test drive by invited motorists at the Volvo Car Corporation´s test track last year.

Earlier this year Volvo demonstrated its Safe Road Trains for the Environment project, aimed at developing a system which electronically links ´platoons´ of vehicles together in a ´road train´ with only the leading driver in active control. It is designed for traffic on motorways and dual carriageways travelling at speeds of up to about 55mph.

Volvo´s current Adaptive Cruise Control technology allows motorists to automatically keep a set safe gap between them and the vehicle travelling in front of them with the steering also controlled by the system.

Mr Mertens said: "The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time." 

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