Volvo, Autoliv partnership

Jan Carlson, left, chairman, president and CEO of Autoliv, left, and Håkan Samuelsson, president and CEO of Volvo Cars. Image courtesy Volvo.

Volvo Cars and Autoliv Inc., a Sweden-based vehicle safety systems supplier, announced Tuesday that they are forming a partnership to develop next-generation autonomous driving software.

Their goal is to provide software with lifesaving technology that carmakers can use in their vehicles. In a presentation, the companies said this is the first time a premium automaker is creating a joint autonomous driving software company with a “global tier 1 supplier.” They noted that their partnership is “crucial” in order for each of them to make their visions a reality.

Volvo’s vision is that “no one should be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by 2020.” And Autoliv’s vision is saving more lives. Autoliv claims that its products save 30,000 lives annually, and prevent 10 times as many severe injuries.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said the creation of the partnership “means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster.”

Dennis Nobelius

Dennis Nobelius has been named chief executive of the new company. Image courtesy Volvo.

The two companies named Dennis Nobelius, managing director of Volvo Switzerland and formerly vice president vehicle line 90 at Volvo Cars, as the chief executive of the new joint venture. In 2010, China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. bought Volvo from Ford Motor Co.

The company, to be located in Lindholmen Science Park Gothenberg (Sweden), will have approximately 200 engineers from both companies, and will be “formally operational” early in 2017.

Its focus will be to develop algorithms and software for two projects:

  • Advanced Driver Assistance Systems to support drivers, with a launch date of 2019
  • Highly Automated Driving systems for autonomous driving, with a launch date of 2021.

The company, which does not yet have a name, is expected to grow to more than 600 employees, Lucas Merian wrote for Computer World.

Technology Scramble

Niklas Pollard writes for Reuters that this new partnership is the most recent development in an industry “scrambling to adopt the latest technology.” Volvo agreed last month to join forces with Uber in a $300 million alliance to develop self-driving cars. Volvo also said it planned to hire 400 engineers during the next year to boost creation of software.

Jan Carlson, chairman, chief executive and president of Autoliv, said, “This new company is a recognition of the fact that autonomous driving is the next step to transform road safety.”

Future of Driving

Earlier this summer, Volvo announced the findings of its Future of Driving survey of nearly 50,000 people worldwide. Among the results, nine out of 10 New Yorkers and 86 percent of Californians felt that autonomous cars could make their lives easier.

However, the survey found that residents of Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Texas were more doubtful than the average consumer about the safety benefits of autonomous driving. Only 62 percent of Pennsylvanians surveyed believe that more autonomous vehicles on roads would eliminate traffic accidents, as opposed to an average of 68 percent of survey participants. And only 52 percent of Illinois residents who responded would trust a self-driving car to make safety decisions, 10 percent less than the national average. In addition, 69 percent of Americans feel that self-driving vehicles will keep their families safer, as opposed to 6o percent of Texans.

Lex Kerssemakers, president and CEO of Volvo Car USA, said:

The difference between states regarding the safety benefits of autonomous cars highlights why we need a federal framework for autonomous driving regulations.

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