Self-driving cars may already exist on our roads today in limited form, but they are by no means going to be a mainstream option for many years. Safety is obviously a very high priority, and ensuring self-driving cars travel within lanes, at safe speeds, and are able to react to other vehicles, pedestrians, and obstacles on the road is a challenge
Volvo believes it has the answer to more accurate self-driving cars, though. Rather than just relying on GPS and cameras for navigation, Volvo wants to embed magnets in our roads.
Magnets aren’t affected by the weather and because they are embedded can’t easily be damaged. At the same time, magnets positioned at regular intervals act as, in Volvo’s words, “an invisible railway” for self driving cars. By detecting the magnets a car can constantly adjust its path to be much more accurate.
Volvo has tested this system out on a 100-meter test track in Sweden, which had 40 x 15mm round ferrite magnets installed 200mm below the surface. The company says the results of its tests are very encouraging and could bring a range of benefits. As well as helping to prevent accidents, the magnets may also allow lanes to be made narrower therefore increasing the amount of traffic each road can cope with.