Volvo says its S90 luxury sedan premiering later this year will be the first production vehicle to offer “semi-autonomy” as standard equipment. Its next-generation Pilot Assist will allow the sedan to accelerate, decelerate, stop completely and steer on roads with clear lane markings at speeds as high as 80 mph, and without the need for a “lead” car in front of it.
The new Pilot Assist expands on the system that comes as part of an optional $1,800 convenience package on the 2016 Volvo XC90. On the sport/utility vehicle, the semi-autonomous features depend on the car or truck in front, as well as lane markings, for self-steering. The steering semi-autonomy is limited to speeds of up to 30 mph.
Volvo plans to take the Pilot Assist features a few steps further in 2017, when it will test a fleet of 100 XC90s with enough autonomy to allow drivers to not pay attention to the road when traveling on a roughly 50-kilometer (31 mile) stretch of highway in the automaker’s home town of Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo also has said it will take responsibility for any accidents caused when its cars and SUVs are in full autonomous mode.
“Making semi-autonomous features standard in the S90 symbolizes Volvo’s commitment to autonomous driving and our Vision 2020,” Volvo Cars USA president and CEO Lex Kerssemakers said in a prepared statement.
The 2017 Volvo S90 was unveiled in Sweden last December, and makes its first auto show appearance next week at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It’s available for sale in the U.S. “later” in 2016.