At the Global Mobility Leadership Forum held in Detroit, Volvo's CEO Hakan Samuelsson said that the company is looking to release self-driving cars into the market by 2021, with the autopilot features to add about $10,000 to the cost of its vehicles.
Samuelsson told reporters at the event that the autopilot system in Volvo vehicles will be sold as an optional feature. Through it, the occupants of the vehicle can leave the driving to the system, though the cars will still have steering wheels on the times when an occupant will choose to take control.
"To make a car even more premium, one of the most interesting things is a full autopilot," said Samuelsson, who added that the self-driving system that Volvo is planning for its vehicles will not require any form of supervision from passengers. Instead, they can just relax in their seats while doing activities such as watching movies, as the car takes them to their intended destination.
The approach of Volvo on its autopilot system is similar to how most new features are integrated into vehicles. The new feature is first added to the top-of-the-line cars, as can be seen in the $10,000 additional cost for self-driving capabilities, and then eventually trickling down into being an option for more vehicles before becoming a standard among all products.
Volvo, however, is different on how it is looking to launch its self-driving technology. While other automobile manufacturers such as Ford and GM are looking to introduce their systems in fleets of taxi-style cars, Volvo will be releasing its technology directly on vehicles that can be purchased by individuals. Given the timelines previously revealed by these companies, it is possible that all the various applications of driverless systems will be hitting the road at roughly the same time.
To aid in its development of self-driving car systems, Volvo will be opening a research and engineering center in Silicon Valley. The facility will house 70 engineers, who will be working on developing the technology alongside infotainment and connectivity systems.
Employees who will be working at the center will start to move in as soon as next week, with Volvo U.S. CEO Lex Kerssemakers stated in an interview that the furniture at the facility is already being installed.
Volvo has decided not to be part of the upcoming Paris Motor Show, which is regarded as one of the most important shows in the automotive industry. Volvo will instead plan its own media events to unveil its new vehicles.