A Volvo joint venture will take to Swedish highways to test a Level 4 self-driving car later this year, Reuters reported Monday.
Zenuity, a joint venture between Volvo Cars and Veoneer, gained approval from Swedish authorities to test self-driving cars at speeds up to 50 mph without any human input. In Level 4 self-driving cars, human backup drivers are present, but they will keep their hands off of the controls unless needed.
The approval is a major step forward for Zenuity, which has only run tests to gather data for its autonomous sensors and technology. Volvo has undertaken data collection of drivers and their behavior to improve the self-driving experience. The latter has promised its first self-driving car will arrive in 2021, which sounds ambitious after a Zenuity spokesperson said it was too early to tell when it may test cars without a human safety driver.
Google's Waymo has already received approval in California to begin tests without a human driver and GM's Cruise Automation showed off its next-generation self-driving car without manual controls a year ago.
In the short-term, Zenuity believes it will have its first driver-assistance technology feature available this year. Both Volvo Cars and parent automaker Geely will be customers.
Outside of Volvo Cars, Volvo's commercial truck arm has also dipped into the self-driving space. Self-driving Volvo trucks have begun transporting raw materials from a Norwegian rock quarry to a port as part of a new trial. The tests will continue through 2019 before a full service goes operational.