VOLVO is set to carry out the world's first self-driving car trial with no driver behind the wheel
The Swedish car manufacturer announced plans to test its Ride Pilot driverless tech on California roads by the middle of this year.
Volvo said the futuristic tech test will be "unsupervised", meaning there is no qualified driver behind the wheel.
That makes it the world's first fully autonomous test of a self-driving car.
Volvo's fully electric SUV, which is set to be released in 2023, boasts a Luminar LiDAR sensor with five radars, eight cameras and 16 ultrasonic sensors to make sure no road hazards are missed.
Volvo head of research and development Mats Moberg said: “We are proud to announce the planned US launch of our first truly unsupervised autonomous driving feature, as we look to set a new industry standard for autonomy without compromising safety.
"[This is] a game-changer for Volvo Cars, as well as for automotive safety and autonomous driving.”
The carmaker has teamed up with road safety tech firm Zenseact and artificial intelligence whizzes at Luminar to build Ride Pilot and plan the bold tests.
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Ride Pilot is Volvo's name for its self-driving technology, combining a user interface and under-the-bonnet hardware which make driverless journeys possible.
The company said: "Ride Pilot aims to free up more time for customers and make driving a Volvo even more convenient and enjoyable."
Software updates installed remotely mean Ride Pilot will be entirely autonomous once you've bought the car, it added.
Volvo plans to release Ride Pilot in California first, followed by a worldwide rollout.
But the trial's go-ahead still depends on sign-off from local regulators.
The company added: "Ride Pilot will only be made available to customers once it has gone through Volvo Cars’ rigorous verification and testing protocol."
Self-driving tech has already found its way to British cars in the form of Tesla's Autopilot feature and other vehicles' parking assist technology.
But Volvo's plans are much more ambitious.
Rather than use self-driving components to bolster the traditional driving experience, Volvo's announcement suggests its driverless tech will replace all aspects of driving.
It's not yet clear how the new tech will affect drivers' car insurance premiums.
Uswitch car insurance expert Florence Codjoe told The Sun: "The majority of traffic accidents which occur on the road are known to be caused by human error.
"Driver assistance technology has already committed to trying to reduce the cause of accidents occurring whilst driving.
"So self-driven technology will surely see an even greater reduction in human error accidents, therefore lowering the risk drivers present to insurers.
"Insurance companies will need to consider how premiums are priced with such cars, now that less risk is involved."
Meanwhile, Compare the Market predicts there will be one "driverless car insurance" policy to cover all self-driving vehicles.
That's because insurers would expect to cover accidents "caused by car system failure", while drivers would have to face the costs of human error.
Quite how the difference will be decided is another question yet to be answered.
It was thought fully driverless motors would be on British roads by the end of 2021, but that has not happened.
Yet travel experts have estimated driverless motors will be as common as taxis within two years.
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