Read our new manifesto

Volvo's first self driving cars will be unmarked to avoid other drivers from 'challenging' them

Volvo self-driving car

Volvo's first self driving cars to hit Britain's roads will look no different to its other models to avoid other motorists from trying to "challenge" them.

The car marque's pilot project to lease the first autonomous vehicles to everyday drivers will see 100 self-driving 4x4 vehicles take to the busy main roads into London from 2018.

Erik Coelingh, senior technical leader at Volvo Cars said the decision to make the cars unidentifiable from regular vehicles comes amid safety concerns.

“From the outside you won’t see that it’s a self-driving car. From a purely scientific perspective it would be interesting to have some cars that are marked as self-driving cars and some that are not and see whether other road users react in a different way,” Coelingh told the Observer.

“I would expect they will, but I don’t know how and to what extent. So just to be on the safe side they will all be unmarked cars. I’m pretty sure that people will challenge them if they are marked by doing really harsh braking in front of a self-driving car or putting themselves in the way,” he said.

The 2018 London pilot will see commuters switch into self-driving mode on certain roads, such as the M4 from Heathrow to the capital, to see how the cars cope with real traffic conditions, the Guardian reports.

“You have to deal with really strange things in real traffic. That’s the basic challenge. It’s easy to make a car drive itself but it’s really difficult to make it safe. The real challenge is to make sure the car can deal with all things that can happen on the road – and that includes human behaviour,” added Coelingh.

Volvo has been negotiating with the UK car insurance industry, and its research arm Thatcham Research, to work out who would be held responsible in the event of an accident when a car is in self-drive mode.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis