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Volvo at CES announces Ride Pilot autonomy coming to California, deeper integration with Google

Volvo just made some tech announcements at this year’s CES. We learned more about the company efforts towards autonomyand in the near future, Volvo’s infotainment system is getting some notable updates.

We’ll start with autonomy and the system Volvo is calling “Ride”. Pilot. Volvo says it is working with autonomous driving software companies Zensact and Luminar to bring more autonomy to its future vehicles. They announced today that the final “Ride Pilot” system that will arise from this partnership will first be made available to customers in California before rolling out in other regions. Volvo is limiting initial use to California, as it says “climate, traffic conditions and regulatory frameworks provide a favorable environment for the introduction of autonomous driving.”

The system takes full control of the vehicle when it is turned on. That means drivers can do what they want, not limited to reading, writing or working, Volvo said.

The name ‘Ride Pilot’ implies what drivers can expect: when the car drives itself, Volvo Cars takes charge of the driving, providing the driver with comfort and peace of mind, explains Volvo.

It will be available as an add-on subscription service to one All-electric SUV to be revealed later this year. How much it will cost per month or per year remains a mystery, but you won’t be able to calculate it with the car’s standard purchase price. Said EV will be equipped with five radars, eight cameras and sixteen ultrasonic sensors.

Testing of the autonomous system will take place in California by the middle of this year, and it’s already underway in Sweden and across Europe. Only when Volvo says it’s been verified for highway use will the feature be available for subscription. Volvo did not provide year estimates for the initial rollout.

Update Google and Android Cars

Volvo cars run on Google platform Android car infotainment system will soon be integrated with the Google Home ecosystem and Google Assistant-enabled devices. This will give you more ability to control your car with any Google Assistant device in your home. You could theoretically schedule a charge (for an EV or PHEV), lock the doors, or start the car via voice commands – for more sensitive commands like unlocking the car, Volvo says it will ask for authentication two factors. Additionally, Volvo says it will soon add a YouTube app to its cars to allow people to simply watch YouTube on the infotainment screen. This will prove useful/interesting when you are charging your electric Volvo. Volvo specifically states that video playback will not be possible while the car is in motion.

Finally, the new Volvo cars will get a hardware upgrade with Qualcomm’s permission. The chip company’s new Cockpit Platform chip will power Volvo’s infotainment systems in the future, and Volvo claims the upgrade will produce a system twice as fast as the current one. Plus, especially when it comes to graphics-related screen functions, the system will be up to 10x faster.

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