Volvo will test self-driving cars on the public next year

Going beyond the controlled situations of previous trials.

Volvo has been working on its autonomous vehicle program for several years now, but there's only so much you can learn from testing tech in controlled conditions. While the company has run trials on public roads before, it's now planning to take engineers and technicians out of the equation to see how regular road users take to self-driving cars. As part of its ongoing "Drive Me" project, Volvo is going to put real people behind the wheels of "semi-autonomous" vehicles from early next year, in order to understand how they are suited to everyday scenarios like doing the school run and picking up the weekly grocery shop.

Similar large-scale trials will be taking place in Volvo's home town of Gothenburg, Sweden, and on the streets of London. In the UK capital specifically, the plan is to start out with a small number of XC90 SUVs fitted with "IntelliSafe Autopilot," Volvo's half-assistive, half-autonomous vehicle tech. If all goes well, the trial will be expanded in 2018 to include up to 100 cars capable of full autonomy. Hopefully, Volvo will also be done developing its next-generation infotainment system by then, allowing these early test subjects to Netflix and chill while their car takes full charge of the daily commute.