Volvo, Veoneer's Autonomous Joint Venture to Start Testing in Sweden

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【Summary】Zenuity, a joint venture involving Volvo and Veoneer, have received approval to begin testing its autonomous software on Sweden’s highways.

Original Vineeth Joel Patel    Jan 30, 2019 6:00 AM PT
Volvo, Veoneer's Autonomous Joint Venture to Start Testing in Sweden

Volvo may have a large role in autonomous testing in the U.S., as Uber prominently uses the vehicles as its test cars, but the brand is also looking to conduct testing closer to home. In a press release, Veoneer, a Swedish company that specializes in manufacturing advanced driving-assist systems, stated that Zenuity, which is the company's joint venture with Volvo, has received approval to start testing its autonomous cars on public roads in Sweden. 

Zenuity, as Reuters reports, has Level 4 semi-autonomous vehicles that are ready to be tested on public highways. According to the SAE, there are five levels of autonomy with Level 4 being the second highest. A semi-autonomous vehicle with Level 4 capability can drive itself in most environments, but may struggle in inclement weather and in unusual environments. 

The joint venture will put Volvos, there's no word on what model will be used, on Swedish highways at speeds of up to 50 mph. Trained drivers will be behind the wheel of the vehicles at all time. 

The approval is a step toward helping Zenuity compete with larger rivals like Waymo, Cruise Automation, Audi, BMW, and, of course, Uber. Zenuity's decision to test in Sweden isn't surprising, as the venture has been running tests in the country for some time, as it's been collecting information to further improve on its autonomous sensors and functionality.  

Volvo has also been testing its own vehicles in Sweden, but instead of focusing on how to improve hardware or software, the automaker is more concerned with the driver experience and studying driver behavior, claims Reuters

Understandably, real-world testing will be a huge plus for Zenuity, as there's no replacement for being able to test on public roads. "The approval to do real-life tests is essential for gathering important data and test functions," said Nishant Batra, Veoneer's Chief Technology Officer. "It is a strong proof-point for the progress of Zenuity's self-driving capabilities." 

As Reuters points out, Volvo and Veoneer came together to form Zenuity in 2017. Together, both companies plan to have driver-assistance products on sale sometime this year. The goal is to have fully autonomous tech for sale sometime down the road. That may sound odd, but Volvo has already stated that it plans to sell its driverless technology to other automotive companies. 

Separately, Volvo has plans to come out with AI-enabled autonomous vehicles by 2021. Volvo is also working on self-driving garbage trucks, which it's currently testing in Sweden. 

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