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Autonomous cars to be unmarked to prevent bullying

By raccars Published

Volvo XC-90 Interior

Autonomous cars will be tested without markings to prevent them from being bullied by drivers.

Volvo has said that Britain’s first self-driving cars will go unmarked so that other road users are not tempted to challenge them. London will play host to the Swedish manufacturer’s autonomous cars as 100 of them are leased to members of the public for testing.

No bullying policy

The motorists will be allowed to enjoy a range of autonomous features in the XC-90 SUV autonomous cars, but the decision has been made that they will not be marked in any way to ensure that other drivers cannot identify them as driverless cars and be tempted to bully them. Volvo realises that this is a particular consideration because the autonomous cars are all programmed to adhere to the highway code, making them a potential target for motoring bullies.

Senior technical leader Erik Coelingh, of Volvo, said that from the exterior it won’t be possible to see that the vehicles are autonomous. He added that it would be an interesting experiment to see what would happen if some cars were marked as self-driving and others were not.

Coelingh said that it would be revealing to see whether road users reacted differently to the self-driving cars. He suspects they would and said that he was ‘pretty sure’ that other drivers would be tempted to challenge the autonomous cars if they were marked. He predicted that issues could arise such as motorists deliberately braking hard whilst inn front of the self-driving cars or intentionally getting in the cars’ path.

Coelingh’s comments back up recent surveys of motorists which suggest that many drivers view driverless cars as easy targets, making them more likely to cut them off or overtake them. A recent London School of Economics survey of 12,000 drivers in a total of 11 countries found that the more ‘combative’ motorists on the road would attempt to ‘mug off’ driverless cars.

Autonomous testing for Volvo

Volvo has begun the testing of its autonomous cars on Sweden’s public roads. The manufacturer is now talking to Highways England and Transport for London about conducting a British pilot scheme.

Earlier this year, Volvo announced a £250 million collaboration with Uber, the ride hailing app, to produce and develop self-driving cars. In the future, these will be purchased and run by the increasingly high profile taxi company.

Volvo and Uber linked up in August, with the taxi firm pledging to buy 100 vehicles by the close of the year. The cars are all built using the Scalable Product Architecture, which is the same Volvo platform seen in the V90, S90 and XC90.

Uber will be using its own self-driving technology, however, rather than Volvo’s DriveMe tech. It is this which will be put under the microscope during the testing process.

DriveMe Volvos

Volvo launched its DriveMe programme earlier this year. The project has been hailed as the most advanced and ambitious autonomous cars experiment the world has ever seen. Volvo will be collecting feedback from real customers who will make use of the autonomous cars as they would any other vehicle during their day-to-day lives.

Volvo thinks that AD technology will be instrumental in improving car accident statistics, whilst also reducing pollution and congestion. The DriveMe tests are aimed at helping the company to refine the autonomous driving technology it uses before its driverless cars are put on the market. This is expected to happen sometime around 2021 after the meticulous testing of the cars to ensure that the technology and the vehicles themselves function as they should.

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