Volvo subsidiary Polestar has teased the arrival of its first electric SUV, the Polestar 3 – and from the looks of it, it could break new ground for autonomous driving technology.
Set to be officially unveiled in October before being released to customers in “early 2023”, the Polestar 3 will aim to rival the Tesla Model X, Audi e-tron, and Mercedes EQS SUV in the range and performance departments, but the car will also feature a potentially market-leading autonomous highway driving system.
Powered by a “first-class LiDAR sensor” and “NVIDIA’s centralized computing power”, the premium SUV will benefit from the same autonomous driving technology as Volvo’s upcoming XC90 SUV to give drivers the ability to navigate at high speeds with almost no human input. However, the feature will arrive “over time” and will be subject to constant over-the-air updates as road infrastructure and transport legislation update.
In a 2020 interview with On the edge (opens in new tab)Volvo’s chief technology officer Henrik Green elaborated on the so-called Ride Pilot system, saying that cars equipped with the software then under development would not require the same level of attention as other vehicles that already claim to support autonomous driving functionality.
Green cited Tesla’s Autopilot and Cadillac’s Super Cruise feature as examples of systems that still require drivers to “stay in the loop” if they need to regain control of their vehicles. The 2022 XC90 SUV (and therefore the Polestar 3), he said at the time, will use an advanced LiDAR sensor to eliminate the need for intervention.
“Your Volvo will soon be able to drive autonomously on highways when the car determines it is safe to do so,” Green said in a statement. Press release (opens in new tab) announcing Volvo’s partnership with LiDAR manufacturer Luminar. “At that point, your Volvo takes responsibility for driving and you can relax, take your eyes off the road and your hands off the wheel.”
This all sounds great in principle, and Volvo’s commitment to hyper-precise LiDAR sensors in camera-based scanning systems (the kind favored by Elon Musk’s automaker) suggests that the Polestar 3 and the new Volvo XC90 might actually deliver on its driving promise. autonomous.
In practice, though, drivers’ ability to use Volvo’s Ride Pilot system will depend on the viability of the roads themselves – and the brand’s autonomous software is unlikely to improve on Tesla’s equivalent right away.
Volvo itself also admitted that the path to full vehicular autonomy will be a gradual one, with over-the-air upgrades scheduled for its upcoming vehicles that “will expand the areas where [these cars] can drive [themselves].”
In reality, a truly autonomous Polestar 3 is several years away – but it’s certainly promising to see another major automaker preparing its vehicles for an autonomous future.
As mentioned, the Polestar 3 is scheduled to start hitting the roads early next year, although the company also has another SUV, the Polestar 4, and a sports sedan, the Polestar 5, in preparation for 2023 and 2024 respectively. We will share more details on the three models as they are officially revealed.