► Drive Me program delayed until 2021
► Plan was to have 100 autonomous cars being tested by 2018
► Volvo cites more issues than expected as reason for delay
Over the last few years, Volvo has emerged as an unlikely pioneer for autonomous technology, but it’s just had a major setback. Volvo’s Drive Me program aimed to test autonomous technology in the wild by the end of 2017, but according to Automotive News Monthly, it’s pushed that target back a further four years to 2021.
In 2015, Volvo hoped to run a fleet of 100 Level 4 autonomous XC90s in Sweden, to help develop its driverless software, with programs in the UK and China to follow. However, Volvo ran into several problems with its autonomous tech, and decided there wasn’t enough time to fix any of the issues.
‘On the journey, some of the questions that we thought were really difficult to answer have been answered much faster than we expected,’ Marcus Rothoff, the autonomous driving program director for Volvo told Automotive News Europe. ‘And in some areas, we are finding that there were more issues to dig into and solve than we expected.’
Volvo hasn’t actually explained exactly what caused the setbacks, but it’s still interesting to see a carmaker explain its R&D process in such a transparent fashion.
If driverless cars are to be accepted by motorists, carmakers will need to be honest and transparent about the product they’re putting out. And in that way, Volvo’s decision to publicly postpone its own autonomous program might turn out to be more of a PR win than a PR disaster.