It looks like 2021 could be a benchmark year for Volvo as it says it will join BMW in having self-driving cars on the road in five years.
The Chinese-owned Swedish carmaker will begin testing vehicles with advanced self-driving features next year in Gothenburg, Sweden, London and China.
Eventually, 100 test cars will be on the roads in each country with ordinary drivers behind the steering wheels.
“It’s our ambition to have a car that can drive fully autonomously on the highway by 2021,” Volvo CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Bloomberg in an interview.
Volvo is already one of the leaders in semi-autonomous technology, even on its current cars and has promised no deaths or serious injuries in its vehicles by 2020.
But, unlike BMW, which announced its 2021 target together with Intel Corp. and Mobileye, Volvo is still looking for collaborators.
“This technology is something as a carmaker you cannot develop by yourself,” Samuelsson said.
The automaker needs expertise in software and cloud services and is looking into “various partnerships right now,” the CEO said.
Beyond that, there’s the inconsistency of regulations in the countries where it wants to sell self-driving cars.
Samuelsson said getting autonomous vehicles on the road in five years will require new laws and regulations that govern their operation as noted in recent headlines.
Countries are struggling to come up with legislation for testing and the development of autonomous cars, and the outcome could impact not only Volvo’s 2021 goal, but also all rivals.
Perhaps autonomous vehicle technology will be ready before the regulators are.