Volvo Cars plans to commence an autonomous driving (AD) trial next year in the UK, aiming to speed up the introduction of a technology that is claimed to cut down car accidents, free up congested roads and save drivers valuable time.

This is part of the Swedish company’s commitment that no one will be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo by the year 2020.

Volvo Cars president and chief executive Håkan Samuelsson said: "Autonomous driving represents a leap forward in car safety.

"The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."

The test, to be called Drive Me London, differentiates itself from other AD programmes by using real families driving AD cars on public roads.

Volvo will source its data from these everyday users and then use this data to develop AD cars that are suitable for real world driving conditions.

Thatcham Research will offer the technical data analysis and any professional test drivers needed as part of the trial.

"The sooner AD cars are on the roads, the sooner lives will start being saved."

Drive Me London will commence in early 2017 with a limited number of semi-autonomous driving cars and expand in 2018 to include up to 100 AD cars.

The introduction of AD cars is expected to revolutionise Britain’s roads in four main areas, safety, congestion, pollution and time saving.

Independent research has revealed that AD has the potential to reduce the number of car accidents significantly, in some cases by up to 30%.

Currently, up to 90% of all accidents are caused by driver error or distraction.

Image: An autonomous vehicle on the road. Photo: courtesy Volvo Car Corporation.