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Volvo Car Corp. demonstrates autonomous driving in traffic jams; traffic jam assistance system ready for production in 2014

As another step toward autonomous driving systems, Volvo Car Corporation is demonstrating a new traffic jam assistance system. The new system, whereby the car automatically follows the vehicle in front in slow-moving queues up to 50 km/h (31 mph), will be ready for production in 2014.

The traffic jam assistance function is an evolution of the current Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Aid technology, which was introduced in the all-new Volvo V40 earlier in 2012. The driver activates the traffic jam assistance function by pushing a button. When active, the engine, brakes and steering respond automatically.

The Adaptive Cruise Control enables safe, comfortable driving by automatically maintaining a set gap to the vehicle in front, at the same time as the steering is also controlled.

This technology makes driving more relaxed in the kind of monotonous queuing that is a less attractive part of daily driving in urban areas. It offers you a safe, effortless drive in slow traffic. The car follows the vehicle in front in the same lane. However, it is always the driver who is in charge. He or she can take back control of the car at any time.

—Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President Research and Development of Volvo Car Corporation

Slow-moving queues are part of urban commuting. Americans spend more than 100 hours a year commuting to work, according to the US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey. Drivers in major metropolitan areas such as New York, Chicago, Philadelphia and Los Angeles spend even longer times queuing to and from work every day.

The low-speed traffic jam assistance system is the second technology for autonomous driving recently presented by Volvo Car Corporation. A few weeks ago, the company demonstrated the SARTRE project (Safe Road Trains for the Environment), which focuses on platooning in highway and motorway traffic at speeds of up to 90 km/h (56 mph). (Earlier post.)

Autonomous driving—with steering, acceleration and/or braking automatically controlled by a vehicle that requires very little human interaction—is a major focus area in Volvo Car Corporation’s development work. (Earlier post.)

The traffic jam assistance technology will be part of Volvo Car Corporation’s new Scalable Product Architecture, SPA, which will be introduced in 2014.

Separately, Volvo Car Corporation and the Embassy of Sweden hosted a seminar—“Policy Implications of Autonomous Vehicles”— in Washington DC at which Mertens called for a seamless, federal framework for regulating autonomous vehicles.

Autonomous driving has potential for improving road safety, traffic flow and fuel economy. To make this happen it is important to avoid a patchwork of various state regulations.

Volvo Car Corporation aims to gain leadership in the field of autonomous driving by moving beyond concepts and pioneering technologies that will reach the customers. We already have several driving assistance systems in the pipeline. But the legal situation for this technology still remains unclear. We want to address this by supporting efforts to legalize testing of autonomous systems as well as initiating a constructive co-operation with policymakers.

It is important that the US Government underlines that regulation of motor vehicle safety systems and components is their jurisdiction. NHTSA research on the issues associated with autonomous vehicles could be the first step toward adoption of performance ratings on technology for autonomous driving. It is also crucial that state legislation doesn’t restrict the use of active safety and support systems. They should be explicitly excluded from the definition of autonomous driving.

—Peter Mertens

Nevada, Florida and California have all taken legislative steps to support the development of autonomous driving. (Earlier post, earlier post.)



I hope this system is aware if a pedestrian walks out in front of something, or this could be very dangerous with the driver not taking much notice.


Yes - I think these early trials are just PR stuff.

It makes no sense except as evolution from backup alarms toward fully automated driving.

I suspect partially automated driving will have to be skipped - it would be like a 10 year old driving - NOPE; wait for an adult.

Just PR stuff.


This is no PR stuff.

Similar and future (bad) driver assistance and driver less system will protect pedestrians, cyclists, other drivers and passengers. They will probably become as common and compulsory as air bags in the next 10 to 20 years.

Road fatalities and accidents will be reduced by 50+%.

Car insurance cost will be similarly reduced.

Future automated cars will drop the driver-passenger at the front door, find a parking place, park, pay parking fees and pick you up on demand-command (via smart cell phone?).


It would have to be able to detect and avoid pedestrians as they tend to jay walk through slow / stationary traffic.

In Europe, pedestrians have rights as well as motorists, which includes not being run over while jay walking.

Bob Wallace

This is going to be some very popular technology for those who have daily crowded commutes. Imagine being able to kick back and relax as you do your half hour/whatever of bumper-to-bumper twice a day.

When one of the more modestly priced models becomes available with this feature it is going to grab huge market share.

The fact that Volvo is bringing it out will help acceptance. Volvo has a great reputation for passenger safety.

Bob Wallace

"It would have to be able to detect and avoid pedestrians as they tend to jay walk through slow / stationary traffic."

Automated vehicle systems have the ability to watch to the right, to the left, and behind all at the same time. They don't get distracted by the eye-candy on the sidewalk.

Automated vehicle systems can see people and animals in the dark. They can be programmed to always remember that bouncing balls are sometimes followed by children and one deer crossing the road often means a second/third is going to follow.


Good points BW. Drivers assistance will be introduced progressively over the next 10 to 20 years. The final product will be semi and/or full driver less cars.

I've seen a robot do a critical eye operation with great success. A car equipped with appropriate sensors, enough computing power and output devices can be driven without a human driver now and even much better in 10 to 20 years from now.

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