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Volvo Announces Ride Pilot Unsupervised Self Driving System at CES

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In partnership with Luminar Technologies, Volvo announced an autonomous driving system called Ride Pilot at the 2022 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Volvo customers in California will have access to Ride Pilot as a subscription service sometime after 2022.

According to Volvo‘s chief technologies officer Henrik Green, Ride Pilot would exceed the Society of Automotive Engineers’ criteria for Level 3 autonomous vehicles. Green told The Verge, “We will not need hands on the steering wheel, and we will not need eyes on the road. This would put the Swedish carmaker’s autonomous system more than one step above Tesla’s Level 2 FSD Beta, which requires a driver to be ready to take control of the vehicle when needed.

The Ride Pilot system features a sensor package consisting of a Luminar Iris LiDAR sensor, 16 ultrasonic sensors, eight cameras and five radars. Ride Pilot will be available in Volvo’s upcoming electric vehicles, including a yet-to-be-named electric XC90 successor that will be launched later this year. Volvo subsidiary Zenseact developed the software for the autonomous system.

Volvo plans to roll out Ride Pilot to customers in California after the California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit to test its autonomous vehicles on public roads. It appears that the test fleet will consist entirely of Ride Pilot subscribers. Volvo hopes its subscription model will give as many customers access to its autonomous software as possible. Henrik Green said, “The subscription is a very low barrier to try.”

While Ride Pilot’s promised features sound impressive, I am wary of allowing a customer in the state of California to use the driverless technology on public roads during a trial period. The California Highway Patrol has not yet approved Volvo’s permit. So there is still a possibility that the authority will reject the current conditions.

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