Volvo's Senior VP of Research and Development Henrik Green has told Jalopnik that the company is currently developing a Level 4 autonomous driving system for the XC90, which it plans to launch in 2021.
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The system, called Highway Pilot, will allow you to "eat, sleep, work, watch a movie, relax, do whatever". However, the system won't be full Level 4 autonomy, as it will only be able to work on certain roads that have been mapped out so that it can be completely safe. Those roads being highways, hence the name. Highway Pilot will cost in the "four figures" when it becomes available.
The technology should hopefully trickle its way down to other models when hardware becomes more affordable.
Highway Pilot will use mapping data, lidar and communications with the cloud, although Green admitted there are still a few obstacles to overcome, such as whether the system will be legal to use on American roads. This also implies that the system may be US-only at launch.
Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson has added that Volvo is deliberately skipping developing a level 3 autonomous system, as a human is still needed to be on hand to take over at a moment's notice, which in Volvo's eyes detracts from the autonomous experience. He said: "You should be very careful being in some middle territory there because that is very dangerous,"
"That could jeopardize the whole process—which could save thousands of lives in the long-term." Volvo's current autonomous system, Pilot Assist, will likely be its last before Highway Assist is released.