volvo driverless car

Volvo completes purchase of autonomous driving firm

Image credit: volvo

Volvo Cars has taken full control of an autonomous driving software firm in a bid to ramp up its development of the technology.

The car firm raised its stake in Zenseact to 100 per cent ownership. It already owned 86.5 per cent of the company.

Zenseact develops software using AI that is currently used for driver assistance systems but could one day enable full self-driving vehicles.

The OnePilot software is currently capable of anticipating and avoiding dangerous traffic situations, even in darkness and generally poor visibility.

It is capable of maintaining safe distances from nearby cars by automatically adjusting the vehicle’s speed and position to handle sharp turns and other tricky situations.

It also makes real-time use of high-definition maps to help the car see beyond the visible horizon and better adjust the driving to what’s beyond the next turn. It uses maps to ensure the vehicle stays centred in the lane even when road markings are hard to spot.

Volvo bought the remaining 13.5 per cent of Zenseact from former owners ECARX as part of “a strategic step” to owning more of the software powering key functionality going into future cars.

Volvo said the firm will continue to remain and operate as a standalone company and lead development of safety, advanced driver assistance and autonomous driving technologies for introduction first in Volvo and Polestar cars.

The ongoing collaboration discussions between Zenseact and ECARX will continue as planned. The acquisition of the remaining stake in Zenseact was completed on December 31.

In October last year it was announced that Argo AI, an autonomous vehicle start-up that launched in 2017, was shutting down and being absorbed into its two main backers, Ford and VW.

The company had more than 2,000 employees who were all let go, although a number received job offers from the company’s former owners.

In 2017, hopes were higher in the automotive sector that full self-driving vehicles would launch in the near future, but technology and legislative setbacks have dampened hopes about near-term launches.

A wave of consolidation has washed over the industry in recent years, with companies folding or being absorbed into other companies.

However, some semi-automated vehicles are now available to purchase from the likes of Tesla, which offers what it calls ‘Enhanced Autopilot’ and ‘Full Self-Driving Capability’ options, although these still always require the driver to remain in control of the vehicle.

A recent study found that some owners of these cars are frequently too reliant on semi-autonomous features and treat them as fully self-driving despite safety warnings.

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