A car held to the road by magnets

Last updated 07:13 13/03/2014
Volvo is looking at using magnets in a bid to create an autonomous car.

GET A GRIP: Volvo is looking at using magnets in a bid to create an autonomous car.

Relevant offers


Police clampdown with 4kmh speed threshold in force Heidi Hetzer's wild worldwide car adventure reaches Miami Nobody drives Ford sedan through fake city Vehicles 'levitate' in bizarre crash in China Five city cars with lots of character Active safety to be rewarded in Car of the Year judging Ford creates suit to make you feel like you're driving on drugs The old Kiwi ute isn't what it used to be NZ's first Ford Mustang shipment arrives Change to one-year-long warrants of fitness means dangerous tyres on our roads

Volvo has successfully completed an autonomous driving trial using magnets in the roadway to better determine a car's positioning.

Having conducted extensive trials of GPS and camera technology, Volvo admits there are still "crucial" limitations in self-driving cars when factors such as poor weather conditions are at play.

The car maker says road-integrated magnets could hold they key, as they are unaffected by physical obstacles or poor weather.

"The magnets create an invisible railway that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimetre," Volvo's preventative safety leader Jonas Ekmark said.

The research was carried out on a 100-metre test track at Volvo's Swedish headquarters in Gothenburg. With magnetic field sensors installed, road-integrated magnets 20cm below the driving surface gave test vehicles an uninterrupted idea of where they were on the road.

"We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising," Ekmark said.

While the magnetic technology might hold the solution to overcoming different driving variables, it will present impractical infrastructure and development costs – particularly on Australia's extensive road network.

"It is fully possible to implement autonomous vehicles without changes to the present infrastructure. However, this technology adds interesting possibilities, such as complementing road markings with magnets," Ekmark said.

Volvo, along with a host of other car makers, plans to make the self-driving car a reality by 2020.

Several autonomous concepts, including a night detection system, are expected to be integrated into the upcoming XC90 SUV.

-Fairfax News Australia

Ad Feedback
Special offers

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content