On Saturday the world waited for Australia to somehow stuff up the first test-drive of the self-driving car, but thankfully, it was without incident.
The Volvo XC70s travelled at up to 70 kilometres per hour on an expressway near Adelaide, with the trial backed by the South Australian government running in conjunction with a driverless cars conference held over the weekend.
The modified Volvo even has a feature that can detect kangaroos, and thank god too, because those bloody nuisances cause around 20,000 collisions every year.
The car travelled in a convoy along a closed section of Adelaide’s Southern Expressway, with politicians and police among the ‘lucky’ passengers to experience this terrifying act of science.
They followed a ‘pace car’ (a normal car with a driver) to simulate traffic and demonstrate how the driverless car adapts to changing conditions such a slowing traffic.
The new series Volvo XC90, which was released in Australia earlier this year, already comes with a host of fancy-pants features, from automated parking to sensors that warn if the car is straying from its lane or getting to close to the car in front.
Volvo is hoping to have at least 100 of these fandangled cars on Swedish roads by 2017, and the company has enough faith in Aussie drivers that they’re predicting Australia will follow suit within five years.
Europe is also getting keen on the cars, looking to introduce them by 2020.
South Australian premier Jay Weatherill said he believes the technology has the capability to both save lives and reduce carbon emissions.
“We are encouraging the development of a new technology which not only promises to improve safety and lower emissions, but also offers countless opportunities for the South Australian economy,” he said.
“This industry has the potential to revolutionise transport in Australia.
“We want to be at the forefront of this paradigm shift towards an industry which is anticipated to be worth more than $90 billion globally by 2030.”
Volvo’s senior technical leader Trent Victor said long commutes to work are the kinds of drives that prompted the technology advancements.
“You can just sit back and relax and do something else with you time and just let the car follow traffic and do what it does so you’re free to do something else,” he told Business Insider.
“We giving time to the customer and the possibility to do something meaningful while you’re driving…. what would you want to do?”