In collaboration with Luminar Technologies, Volvo announced an autonomous driving system called Ride Pilot on Wednesday at the Consumer Electronics Show. Volvo customers in California will have access to Ride Pilot as a subscription service at some point after 2022.
Based on comments made by Volvo’s Chief Technologies Officer Henrik Green, Ride Pilot would exceed the Society of Automotive Engineers criteria for Level 3 vehicle autonomy. Green told The Verge, “We will not require hands on the steering wheel and we will not require eyes on the road.” This would put the Swedish automaker’s autonomous system more than a step above Tesla’s Level 2 FSD Beta, which requires a driver to be prepared to take control of the vehicle at a moment’s notice.
The Ride Pilot system features a sensor suite of a Luminar Iris LiDAR sensor, 16 ultrasonic sensors, eight cameras and five radars. Ride Pilot will be available on Volvo’s upcoming electric vehicles, including a yet-to-be-named electric XC90 successor that will be available for purchase this year. Volvo subsidiary Zenseact developed the software for the autonomous system.
Volvo plans to roll out Ride Pilot to customers in California by receiving a permit to test its autonomous vehicles on public roads from the California Department of Motor Vehicles. It seems like the test fleet will solely consist of Ride Pilot subscribers. Volvo hopes its subscription model will give as many customers access to its autonomous software as possible. Henrik Green said, “Subscription is a very low hurdle you can try out.”
While the promised functionality of Ride Pilot sounds impressive, I’m wary of allowing any customer in the state of California to use driverless technology on public roads during a testing period. The California DMV hasn’t yet approved Volvo’s permit, so there’s still a chance that the department will reject the current terms.