STOCKHOLM -- Volvo's Zenuity autonomous cars joint venture has won approval to begin hands-free testing of its software for self-driving cars on Swedish highways.
Software for Level 4 autonomous driving - the second highest level - will be tested in a Volvo car by trained drivers with their hands off the steering wheel at a maximum speed of 80 kph (50 mph), Volvo's partner Veoneer said on Monday.
Veoneer spokesman Thomas Jonsson said it was too early to say when Zenuity could potentially test without a safety driver.
Zenuity has been running tests in Sweden to collect data to develop autonomous functionalities and sensors, while Volvo has been carrying out separate tests to gather data to improve driver experience and study driver behavior.
The cars Volvo was testing were "for the development of fully autonomous vehicles" and it was using outside parties and test drivers, a Volvo spokesman said.
Veoneer Chief Technology Officer Nishant Batra said the approval to do real-life tests was "essential for gathering important data and test functions." "It is a strong proof-point for the progress of Zenuity's self-driving capabilities," he said.
Veoneer Chief Technology Officer Nishant Batra said the approval to do real-life tests was "essential" for gathering important data and test functions. "It is a strong proof-point for the progress of Zenuity's self-driving capabilities," he said.
Zenuity, formed by Volvo and Veoneer in 2017, is expected to have its first driver assistance products available for sale by 2019 with autonomous driving technologies following shortly thereafter. Volvo will be a customer.
The Swedish automaker, which is owned by China's Geely, aims to start selling self-driving cars after 2021 and derive a third of its sales from fully autonomous cars by 2025.
Last year, it formed a venture with Baidu to use the Chinese company's autonomous driving software Apollo to develop a Level 4 car.
A top Level 5 vehicle will be able to navigate roads without any driver input in all conditions.
U.S. companies are currently leading the pack to launch autonomous cars, with Google's Waymo last year winning the first approval to test cars without safety drivers on Californian public roads. General Motors' Cruise has said it is ready to deploy a self-driving car with no manual controls, while Germany's BMW and Audi have also secured licences to test their vehicles.
Securing permissions has become tougher after a deadly accident involving a self-driving car that Uber was testing using its own software in a Volvo vehicle. Uber last month resumed limited testing on public roads.