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April 27, 2016updated 05 Sep 2016 10:45am

Volvo to test self-driving cars in London in UK’s biggest driverless trial

News: Programme to start in 2017 with up to 100 families set to be involved by 2018.

By Joao Lima

In what could be the nation’s largest trial of driverless technology ever, up to 100 London families will be given a Vovlo self-driving vehicle.

The trial, code named "Drive Me London", will start in 2017 with a small number of semi-autonomous cars taking to public roads, such as motorways and A roads, before the UK test is expanded to 100 fully autonomous cars in 2018.

The company said it will use an adapted version of its XC90 sport utility jeep.

This will be the first time members of the public are going to be in the driving in a driverless test. Volvo has been carrying out the same sort of experiment in Gothenburg, Sweden, since 2014.

In partnership with Thatcham Research, the Swedish car manufacturer said it will collect data from the cars and use it to design more robust driverless products, based on everyday users’ needs.

Volvo said that the technology will in the future help to reduce the number of road accidents, cut congestion and save drivers time.

CEO Håkan Samuelsson, said: "Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety. The sooner AD [autonomous driving] cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."

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Samuelsson has also pledged for governmental help around driverless cars roll outs and developments. He said: "The car industry cannot do it by itself. We need governmental help."

The UK government has been investing in driverless cars over the last few months, and has allocated more than £100m for developing the technology. Chancellor George Osborne has also said that he intends to have autonomous driving legislation in place by 2020.

The first trials are set to start in Greenwich, London, this Summer, before being expended to Bristol, Coventry and Milton Keynes. Driverless truck convoys are also expected to be rolled out on motorways later this year.

More than 8 driverless car related projects have received funding from the government. These span from research, to design and real-life tests.

Earlier this year, 11 UK insurers have partnered under the Automated Driving Group, to discuss liability and the insurance impact of driverless cars.

More recently, Alphabet’s executive chairman hinted that Google’s driverless technology could soon be also rolled out for the first time outside the US in London.

Peter Shaw, Thatcham Research’s CEO, said: Without a doubt, crash frequency will dramatically reduce, and when a crash cannot be avoided, the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance."

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