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Volvo is testing self-driving cars with real families

It's an acknowledgment that you can't just rely on engineers to try autonomous tech.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
January 9, 2017
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Picture a self-driving car test in your head and you probably see an engineer or two scrutinizing data... and no one else. Everyday people, if they're present at all, tend to be relegated to the back seat. Volvo is trying something different: it just revealed that it's conducting autonomous vehicle tests with an ordinary family, the Hains from Gothenburg, Sweden. The four-person household is convenient for marketing, of course (we care about people!), but they serve an important purpose: they'll help Volvo understand how non-engineers deal with self-driving tech. How do they react when the car switches between manual and autonomous modes, and what do they do at those times when they aren't taking the wheel?

The Hain family will be an important part of the Drive Me project, which has Volvo collaborating with private and public allies on large-scale self-driving tests (up to 100 vehicles) in Gothenburg. The more input they provide, the more likely it is that Volvo's planned 2021 launch of fully autonomous cars will go off without a hitch. Your car may not only transition to hands-free mode more gracefully, but do more to accommodate the other things you'd do in the car. Like, say, talking to your family.

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