If you're planning a vacation in Sweden this year, take careful note of who's doing the driving in that Volvo beside you. The odds are getting better that the answer is-no one.
That's because Zenuity - Volvo's autonomous driving joint venture with partner Veoneer - has just received the go-ahead from Sweden's Transport Authority to begin conducting tests of its autonomous software on the country's highways, according to a report by Reuters.
In September of 2018, Volvo had managed to secure a similar permit, but back then the Transport Authority had stipulated that a human being had to keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times.
That might be an acceptable condition for testing a Level 2, or maybe a Level 3 autonomous system, but Zenuity has its eye on the Level 4 prize. Successful level 4 vehicles have the capability of completing a trip from point A to point B on most roads without any human touch, so getting the green light on a look-ma-no-hands test permit was a vital next step.
Apparently getting permission for this test, which comes with a maximum speed limit of 80 km/h, wasn't easy. Ever since Uber's autonomous vehicle - coincidentally also a Volvo - was involved in a lethal encounter with a pedestrian last year, regulators have been understandably cautious about who gets to test, and where they get to do it.
The only question that still remains: Is the public still excited about seeing someone win?