Volvo to test self-driving cars in China

The Swedish car-maker is looking to launch an experiment in which local drivers in China will test up to 100 self-driving cars, a Reuters report said.

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A road in Beijing, China

The experiment will involve local drivers testing the cars on public roads in limited driving situations such as on express roads and highways, company executives were reported to have told Reuters.

Volvo has not yet announced when the experiment will take place but has confirmed that it is already looking for a well-suited city in China in which to conduct the tests. “It has to be a big city where there are lots of consumers… wasting an hour a day in the cars (sitting in traffic),” Chief Executive of Volvo, Hakan Samuelsson, was quoted as saying. “That’s I think realistically where this function can be sold commercially.”

According to Samuelsson, the self-driving cars alert the driver when autopilot mode can be activated, on freeways or in specific zones such as gated neighborhoods or industrial parks, giving the driver the option to maintain or relinquish control.

Volvo’s experiment is part of the company’s efforts to take advantage of the Chinese government‘s recent pledge to embrace futuristic technologies.

Volvo was purchased in 2010 by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Since that time, the company has been aiming to increase sales in China. It hopes that by 2020, one quarter of its global sales (200,000 units) will be made in the Asia Pacific region – and the majority of these in China.

The company is also planning a similar test programme in Gothenburg, Sweden, to begin next year.

Tesla, Mercedes, Audi and Alphabet Inc’s Google are among other companies currently developing self-driving cars.

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