Following the debut of its pod-like autonomous concept earlier this month, Volvo has been granted permission by the Swedish Transport Agency to start real-world testing of its self-driving technology, with the goal of launching a consumer-ready vehicle by 2021.
According to The Local and documents obtained by Swedish site DI Digital, the agreement grants Volvo permission to operate autonomous vehicles on the city streets and highways around Gothenburg, the site of its global headquarters and Sweden’s second-largest city with a population of about 573,000.
There are some caveats, however, as the vehicles will not be allowed to exceed 60 kph with the autonomous features equipped, and the operators are both required to undergo training from Volvo and keep one hand on the steering wheel at all times. Initially, a program launched in late 2017 began testing autonomous XC90 SUVs in the hands of a select group of families, but it came to an end following the need for additional documentation from the Transportation Agency.
The approval follows Volvo’s reveal of its vision for the future of autonomous driving, the 360c concept, which is essentially a first class airline cabin, conference room, and living area all in one. And of course, it’s a fully electric vehicle.
As president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson said in a press release announcing the 360c, “autonomous drive will allow us to take the next big step in safety,” adding that it will “allow consumers to spend time in the car doing what they want to do.”
Testing will begin soon in Gothenburg, and drivers can expect to see a nearly-autonomous Volvo at dealerships by 2021—at least in Europe.