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Thatcham Research welcomes Volvo Cars UK’s largest and most ambitious real world autonomous driving trial

Press release   •   Apr 27, 2016 00:01 BST

Thatcham Research welcomes Volvo Cars’ UK-based autonomous driving trial announced today - called ‘Drive Me London’ – that significantly differentiates itself from other autonomous driving trials by using real families driving cars on UK public roads.

Volvo Cars will source its data from everyday drivers and use it to develop autonomous cars that are suitable for real world driving conditions, rather than the more unrealistic conditions found on test tracks.

Peter Shaw, chief executive at Thatcham Research said: “This is a landmark trial in the development of autonomous driving. The data collection and analysis will for the first time provide real world insights into how drivers actually react to autonomous driving in actual road conditions.”

Vehicle manufacturers are predicting that highly autonomous vehicles, capable of allowing the driver to drop ‘out of the loop’ for certain sections of their journey, will be available from around 2021.

Peter Shaw continues: “Without doubt, crash frequency could dramatically reduce because of autonomous driving. We’ve already seen this with the adoption of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) on many new cars. Research in the US by NHTSA predicts that by 2035, as a result of autonomous and connected cars, crashes will be reduced by 80%. Additionally, if a crash unfortunately can’t be avoided, then the impact speed will also drop as a result of the system’s performance - reducing the severity of the crash.”

The implications of autonomous driving on the insurance industry will be debated on 3 May in London at a seminar sponsored by Volvo and Thatcham Research, entitled ‘A Future with Autonomous Driving Cars – implications for the insurance industry’.

‘Drive Me London’ will begin in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars, and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 cars, making it the largest and most extensive autonomous testing programme on the UK's roads.

Thatcham Research is the independent voice of automotive safety & repair, advising motorists, insurers and vehicle manufacturers to help reduce accident frequency, severity and costs and to realise the vision of ‘Safer cars, fewer crashes’.

As well as its world leading crash and track research, Thatcham tests and accredits crash repair parts, vehicle repair technicians, and a number of other products and services within the collision repair industry for insurers, motor manufacturers, equipment manufacturers and suppliers.

A founder member of the international Research Council for Automobile Repairs (RCAR), Thatcham has also been a member of the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) since 2004.