Self-driving cars in real-world traffic with real customers

February 20, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Volvo has provided details of its plan to carry out a project with 100 self-driving cars in Gothenburg's real-world traffic. The project reveals which problems autonomous driving will be confronted with.

Starting in 2017, Volvo will test autonomous driving in a large-scale trail with commuters. The vehicles to be used are latest model XC90 SUVs crammed with sensors. But the project also makes clear that sensors and sensors and algorithms in the car are not enough - many success-critical data come from outside the car.

The set of sensors in the self-driving vehicles will be sophisticated: Besides a long-range 76GHz radar in the rear-view mirror, the vehicles will have four radars behind the front and rear bumpers, one on each corner of the car. These radar sensors will detect and locate objects in all directions. By sweeping both left and right, transmitting waves that bounce off signs, poles, and tunnels, they monitor a full 360 degrees around the car.
Four cameras monitor objects in close proximity to the vehicle. Two are under the outer rear-view mirrors, one is in the rear bumper and one is in the grille. Besides detecting objects at close range, these cameras monitor lane markings. These cameras have a high dynamic range and can handle very quick changes in lightning conditions, e.g. when entering a tunnel.