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Self Driving Cars: Volvo Tests Road Magnets for Accurate Positioning

Volvo has been using magnets buried in pavement to very accurately locate a vehicle’s position as part of a larger study on autonomous driving.

Published March 19, 2014
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Volvo Car Group has completed a research project using magnets in the roadway to help the car determine its position.

The research, which has been financed in strategic co-operation with the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is a potential key to the implementation of self-driving vehicles.

Reliable and highly accurate positioning is one of the crucial issues in the development of self-driving cars.

While established positioning technologies such as GPS and cameras have limitations in certain conditions, road-integrated magnets remain unaffected by physical obstacles and poor weather conditions.

The magnets create an invisible ‘railway’ that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimeter.

Volvo Cars currently plays a leading role in a large-scale autonomous driving pilot project in which 100 self-driving Volvo cars will use public roads in everyday driving conditions around the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

Helps prevent run-off road accidents

In parallel with the potential in the field of autonomous driving, road-integrated magnets open up a number of other possibilities:

• Incorporating magnet-based positioning in preventive safety systems could help prevent run-off road accidents.

• Magnets could facilitate accuracy of winter road maintenance, which in turn could prevent damage to snow-covered objects, such as barriers and signs, near the road edge.

• There is also a possibility of more efficient utilization of road space since accurate positioning could allow lanes to be narrower.

 

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