Volvo Experiments With Road Magnets | Edmunds

Volvo Experiments With Road Magnets


Just the Facts:
  • Volvo said road magnets may be the key to the widespread use of self-driving vehicles.
  • Magnets that are built into the road are unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather, according to the Swedish automaker.
  • The next step is to conduct the tests in real-life traffic.

ROCKLEIGH, New Jersey Volvo said road magnets may be the key to the widespread use of self-driving vehicles.

Magnets that are built into the road are unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather, according to the Swedish automaker in a description of the testing released on Tuesday.

The next step is to conduct the tests in real-life traffic.

The magnets provide "reliable and highly accurate positioning" of self-driving cars, Volvo said in a statement. Cars that are linked to the magnets are equipped with several magnetic field sensors.

Volvo said this setup is better than GPS and cameras, which have "limitations in certain conditions." The magnets also can be implemented without major changes to the current infrastructure.

"The magnets create an invisible 'railway,'" said Jonas Ekmark, preventive safety leader at Volvo Car Group. "We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising."

Volvo is one of many automakers, including Ford and Nissan, tinkering with self-driving cars.

"Our aim is for the car to be able to handle the driving all by itself," Volvo said.

Edmunds says: A relatively simple idea that could keep down the cost of self-driving cars and make them more attractive to car shoppers in the not-too-distant future.

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