Volvo, Autoliv to form self-driving car software company

The firm expects to have its first advanced driver assistance system products available for sale by 2019

Volvo Cars today announced a partnership with Swedish-American vehicle safety systems supplier Autoliv Inc. to form a new jointly-owned company to develop autonomous driving software.

The planned company, which has yet to be named, will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden and an initial workforce of about 200 taken from both firms. The new company is expected to start operations in early 2017, and then grow to more than 600 employees.

Autoliv develops and sells automotive safety systems for all major automotive manufacturers around the globe; it has 80 facilities with 60,000 employees in 29 countries.

The new Volvo/Autoliv company will develop advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and autonomous drive (AD) systems for use in Volvo cars and for sale exclusively by Autoliv to other car makers globally. Revenues will be shared by both companies.

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The new company expects to have its first ADAS products available by 2019 with AD technologies available by 2021.

"By combining our know-how and resources, we will create a world leader in AD software development," Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said in a statement. "This means we can introduce this exciting technology to our customers faster."

By 2035, 21 million self-driving vehicles will be on the road, according to a recent report from IHS Automotive.

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International, a U.S.-based industry standards organization, has established six autonomous driving categories where Level 0 represents no automation and Level 5 is a fully autonomous vehicle that controls all aspects of driving previously performed by human.

sae automation levels detailed graphic SAE International and J3016

For example, Level 3 autonomous technology allows all aspects of dynamic driving, such as automated turning, lane keeping and adaptive cruise control, but it has the expectation the driver will re-take control of the vehicle if prompted to do so via ADAS.

The Volvo/Autoliv partnership is indicative of a larger consolidation in the autonomous development market, with automakers either acquiring technology through buyouts or partnering to develop it.

Last month, auto technology suppliers Delphi Automotive and Mobileye announced a partnership to co-develop what they described as the market's first turn-key fully autonomous driving system for automakers.

The Delphi/Mobileye announcement came just one week after Ford revealed that it will produce a fleet of self-driving vehicles without steering wheels or brake and gas pedals for ride-sharing and hailing services.

In July, BMW announced plans to partner with with Intel and Mobileye, to develop the underlying technology for its iNEXT fully autonomous vehicle.

volvo self driving graphic Volvo

Earlier this year, GM announced it was acquiring Cruise Automation for Cruise's deep software talent and rapid development capability -- a move designed to further accelerate GM's development of autonomous vehicle technology.

Over the past two months, GM has entered into a $500 million alliance with ride-sharing company Lyft; formed Maven -- its personal mobility brand for car-sharing fleets in many U.S. cities -- and established a separate unit for autonomous vehicle development.

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