STOCKHOLM--Volvo is planning to unleash 100 autonomous driven cars on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden in 2017. Called "Drive Me," the program will distribute 100 cars to specially selected drivers, who will then provide commentary and diagnostic information that will help the company's development of autonomous vehicles. Volvo will use sensors as well as the city's wireless network infrastructure to provide the underlying connectivity. In addition, it will take advantage of Ericsson's (NASDAQ: ERIC) Connected Vehicle Cloud system.
Speaking at the Ericsson Business Innovation Forum here, Klas Bendrik, Group CIO for Volvo Car Group, said that more details of the Drive Me project will be available in 2015 but added that the program is intended to show the viability of the autonomous car. Once that is proven, Bendrik said that Volvo intends to take the Drive Me project to other markets.
Ericsson's Connected Vehicle Cloud platform allows drivers and passengers access to navigation and entertainment from a screen in the car. Volvo was Ericsson's first customer to use the Connected Vehicle Cloud platform in a deal announced in 2012.
Bendrik also detailed Volvo's current connected car program which includes connecting an existing smartphone into the car and using the vehicle's cloud system to enable smartphone applications to connect to the vehicle. In addition, Volvo has several car models that have embedded connectivity.
In an interview with FierceWireless:Tech, Bendrik said that the company's revenue model is two-fold: Initially, Volvo bundles the service in with the purchase of a new car, and then after a certain time period the service expires and the car-owner must pay a monthly subscription fee to continue the service.
In the U.S. market, Volvo inked a deal with AT&T (NYSE: T) to power the company's Sensus Connect connected car solution that provides embedded infotainment. In addition, AT&T will provide connectivity for the company's On Call service that provides remote access to car functions and emergency crash notification.
AT&T has inked several deals with carmakers including Nissan (for its Leaf electric car), BMW, Ford Motor Co., General Motors (for its OnStar service), Tesla and Audi (for its A3 and Q3 cars). In addition, AT&T has also developed a global GSM-based SIM card for cars, tractors and shipments that can be programmed remotely to change for different networks around the globe.
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