Volvo is a company known for making trucks and buses and construction equipment. It’s latest venture however is a little more related to research and development than others. They are trying to make self driving cars that adhere to traffic rules using..wait for it..magnets.
Technology for self driving cars is slowly being experimented on by many companies but most of them don’t guarantee an adherence to traffic rules or safety from accidents because the entire road is not automated as they are. In a move to change the environment that we drive in, Volvo has begun an ambitious project in Sweden, the home of the company, to place 100 self driving cars in Gothenburg City in public traffic and have them drive safely and without accidents.
They aim to accomplish this by using an alternative approach. Most self driving cars use GPS systems and cameras to manoeuvre between obstacles but Volvo wants to use the road instead of the car to manoeuvre. They plan to install ferrous magnets measuring 40 mm by 15 mm, 200 mm below the road surface and magnetic sensors in the cars to help them adhere to a single lane. These sensors and magnets are accurate up to a decimeter and look promising.
The ferrite magnets have proved to be a viable, cheap and efficient solution to the automation problem but tests in real traffic are still to be conducted.