Volvo to test autonomous cars in Sweden

The permit comes with strings attached.

Volvo has received permission to test autonomous cars on the public roads around its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. The permit to test comes with several strings attached, though.

Testing self-driving cars on its home turf will help the firm develop the technology faster. It's a big step towards reaching its goal of releasing an autonomous car in 2021. Volvo doesn't have a blank check, and Swedish website Di Digital learned it needs to comply with strict guidelines put in place to maximize safety and avoid accidents.

The company's self-driving prototypes will not be allowed to drive faster than about 37 miles per hour (60 kilometers per hour). They will not be allowed to change lanes. And, there will always need to be a trained human driver behind the wheel -- that's fairly standard across the world, but the Swedish authorities took their demand a step further by asking that the driver keep at least one hand on the wheel at all times.

Finally, Volvo needs to file regular reports about the nature of its tests and how they're moving along. The government wants to know about errors, accidents, near-misses, and other safety-related issues.

Di Digital points out receiving the permit from Sweden's transport authority took nearly a year. Volvo hasn't commented on when it will start tests.

Note: Volvo 360c pictured. Photo by Ronan Glon.

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