In California, Volvo is introducing a self-driving function with the Luminar sensor

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Volvo Cars and self-driving sensor maker Luminar Technologies announced on Wednesday that a hands-free driving system called the Ride Pilot will be launched in California for the first time, although the companies did not provide an exact date.

Volvo plans to use the technology that enables the car to take full driving duties in some limited situations in an upcoming all-electric SUV that Volvo plans to announce later this year.

Volvo plans to offer the self-driving feature as a subscription upgrade for customers after the vehicles are already on the road. Alexander Petrofski, Vice President of Strategy and Business Ownership at Volvo, said during a press conference at the Consumer Electronics Show that the cars will go on sale in 2023, but Volvo has not set a date for Ride Pilot availability.

Instead, Volvo has said that Ride Pilot will not be activated for customers until it has been put through a “rigorous review and testing protocol”.

The companies said they plan to test Ride Pilot on pre-production vehicles in California later this year pending regulatory approvals. However, when production vehicles hit the road next year, they will come standard with simpler driver safety technologies that help collect data to validate the Ride Pilot technology before it is released.

“I envision that we will direct some of our sales to California to determine the vehicle density,” to collect data, said Petrofski.

Volvo didn’t want to say how much the subscription to upgrade to Ride Pilot will cost.

“We believe that a large part of our future income will come from software sales,” said Petrofski.

Luminar will provide what is known as a lidar sensor, an important part of the system that helps the car get a three-dimensional map of the road. But the vehicle will also rely on a series of five radar sensors, eight cameras and sixteen ultrasonic sensors, all of which are connected to software from the Swedish company Zensact.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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