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Speaking at the 1st European Conference on Connected and Automated Driving in Brussels, Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Automobiles CEO, has called on governments and automobile makers to collaborate in the sharing of traffic data, something he believes will result in safer roads. Using the data from automobiles in an anonymised form could be fed into existing traffic data and management systems and be used to improve driving routes and potentially reduce the risk of accidents.
Since 2015 Volvo Automobile has begun sharing such data with local authorities in Norway and Sweden. As well as being able to monitor busy commuter routes over a longer period, Volvo Automobiles also has a localised system that can alert drivers in real time on a particular road to a certain hazard such as icy road conditions. Similarly, if a vehicle activates its hazard lights, other vehicles travelling towards it can be alerted to a potential hazard ahead.
"We think this type of data sharing should be done for free, for the greater good and to the wider benefit of society. It saves lives, time and taxpayer money", Mr Samuelsson said. "I call on other automobile makers and governments to work with us on realising this type of data sharing as widely as possible."
Samuelsson also went on to voice his concern regarding so-called Level 3 autonomous driving technology. This is the stage where the automobile is largely in charge of driving the vehicle, but the driver must still be alert and ready to take control of the driving in the event of an emergency. He believes that drives may not be able to react quickly enough having 'zoned out' as the vehicle did the driving and stated that Volvo considers this type of driving mode to be dangerous and will skip it in its own automobiles.
This bypass of Level 3 will see Volvo Automobiles introduce a more advanced Level 4 autonomy in its vehicles in 2021, meaning they can drive unsupervised on suitable roads. The onboard systems, it is claimed, will be capable of managing emergency situations and could bring the vehicle into a safe state without any driver input. Volvo Automobiles has also boldly said that it will assume liability while the automobile is in autonomous mode.