First autonomous XC90 kicks off ‘world’s most ambitious’ public self-driving trial
13 September 2016
VOLVO’S Drive Me autonomous technology experiment has officially gone live with the first of its fleet of self-driving XC90 T8 large hybrid SUVs rolling out for initial trials in Sweden.Vehicle #001 will be followed by “many” identical XC90s that will participate in what Volvo is calling “the world’s most ambitious and advanced public autonomous driving experiment,” allowing hands-off and feet-off motoring on shared Gothenburg roads.While many car-makers have produced one-off or low-volume prototypes for testing by engineers, Volvo’s Drive Me project will hand the fleet of production cars over to families with no more automotive experience than owning a driver’s licence.Another key difference is that, other than the project decals and some subtle additional sensors, the fleet of production vehicles look no different to any other XC90 on the road, highlighting how close to showroom models the technology is.The so-called Autonomous Driving Brain is hidden out of sight under the boot floor and controls the various systems of cameras, proximity sensors and communication networks necessary to interact with the car’s surroundings.Under normal day-to-day use, participants can drive the unique vehicles like any other XC90, but following a significant collaboration with a number of transport agencies, university and council departments, a network has been established on select roads to allow fully autonomous driving.Previous trials and demonstrations have highlighted advances in driverless cars, including one in South Australia where a fleet of XC90s were driven along a closed highway without human intervention, but the latest evolution of testing aims to prove that the technology works in a less controlled environment.Like all of the autonomous XC90s, the first example to roll out of the Torslanda facility will undergo a strict regime of testing and evaluation to ensure it is ready for the experiment, before being handed over to its custodian family.Volvo’s engineers will monitor how the participants use the vehicles and their self driving capability, and the gathered data will allow Volvo’s development team to plan the next generation of driverless systems, moving ever closer to the first showroom version.Volvo Cars active safety senior technical leader Erik Coelingh said the experiment was critical to determine how the public will make autonomous cars part of daily life in a way that cannot be simulated by engineers.“This is an important milestone for the Drive Me project,” he said. “Customers look at their cars differently than us engineers, so we are looking forward to learn how they use these cars in their daily lives and what feedback they will give us.”With the start of the Gothenburg trials, Volvo is predicting that the first fully autonomous production commercial vehicles will be on the road around 2021.After the Swedish experiment, Volvo’s fleet will hit the United Kingdom’s capital for a similar trial, while a number of other countries including China have also expressed interest in running their own autonomous evaluations with the car-maker. Source: http://www.goauto.com.au/mellor/mellor.nsf/story2/CC675730BF21A1D8CA25802D0025C813#!prettyPhoto
First autonomous XC90 kicks off ‘world’s most ambitious’ public self-driving trial
13 September 2016
VOLVO’S Drive Me autonomous technology experiment has officially gone live with the first of its fleet of self-driving XC90 T8 large hybrid SUVs rolling out for initial trials in Sweden.Vehicle #001 will be followed by “many” identical...
Driving in to Sandown Raceway and the memories of my early days of racing always come flooding back, but in the cut and thrust climate of Supercar racing there is very little time for reminiscing. When I saw the Volvo’s in the 1986 livery and the effort that many of the teams and particularly the fans had gone to with their retro style clothing I couldn’t help but think of the “good old” days. I was really looking forward to the weekend of racing and confident that our boys could carry the recent good form of both the #33 and #34 cars into the first of the Endurance races.
Both David Wall and James Golding who were joining Scotty (#33) and Jimmy (#34) also had other racing commitments over the weekend with Carrera Cup (for David) and Supercar Dunlop Series for James.The trip to Sandown was Joe’s 47th Sandown 500, his first being in 1970 with Murray Carter in a Phase II HO Falcon. As much as Joe loves the Sandown event he would much prefer a longer drive than the 14kms. from our Dandenong South workshop to the Sandown circuit. But, this year we had a surprise in store for Joey, he was sitting in the passenger seat of the Volvo FH16 700 Globetrotter and was being replaced in the driver’s seat by a young lady with a name that rhymes with Joey, Zoe!Zoe comes from Hamilton (South West Victoria) where her Mum and Dad run a sheep and crop farm with Zoe and her two sisters that has been in their family since the late 1800’s. Zoe’s parents bought a new Volvo XC90 and three weeks ago, we did a special delivery in our race transporter to the family farm. Joey met Zoe when delivering the XC90 and discovered that she had a B-Double licence and that Zoe travelled to Melbourne weekly as she was employed as a directional driller. Joey returned to our workshop full of enthusiasm and convinced us to allow Zoe to drive the race transporter to Sandown. This happened and for a young lady in her early twenties Zoe did a fantastic job and Joe looked great sitting up in the passenger’s seat.Thursday was spent unloading and setting up the pit facility in readiness for the weekend ahead.Friday and three practice sessions were scheduled with one for the main drivers and two for the co-drivers. All four of our drivers were very comfortable with the car and by the completion of the day #33 was second and #34 fourteenth but only 4/10ths off the quickest time of Whincup/Dumbrell.Again the competitiveness of Supercar racing was evident with the top 24 cars separated by a little more than 6/10ths. The biggest change for the teams this year was this was the first Sandown 500 to be raced on soft tyres and each car was allocated 7 sets for the weekend. We did not use any of these tyres during Friday practice, but did a quick run on a green set during the Saturday morning practice so as the drivers had a good feel of the car as we headed into qualifying.The qualifying format for the 500 is quite a drawn out affair but does involve both drivers. It begins with the main game driver qualifying the car in a 20 minute session. We approach this in the same manner as a Sprint round. Three qualifying runs are done on green tyres, with each run comprising two qualifying laps the first being what we call an “80%” run where the driver has a good go, without putting everything on the line and the second completed at 10/10ths. During these sessions there is time between runs to make small changes to the cars and these normally involve the cars ride height. For example if the car is oversteering (tail out) the engineers will instruct the mechanics to lower the rear ride height. With Supercar qualifying being so close it is necessary to find every little 1000th of a second and the smallest changes can be the difference of 5 or 6 grid positions.Both Moff and Scotty did an excellent job during this first part of qualifying with Moff finishing the session in 5th and Scotty 7th. Mostert (Prodrive) led the way from Whincup.The second stage required the co-drivers to complete a 20 lap race, followed by the main drivers to do the same. Wallee and Bieber (Golding) both did a very good job finishing 6th and 7th.The main drivers find this 20 lap race particularly nerve racking as they have no control over the outcome and as much as they don’t want the co-driver to have a mishap by over driving the car, they also do not want them to be too conservative where all the other drivers pounce on them costing many grid positions. Wallee and Bieber certainly found the balance between aggression and conservation. Scotty and Moff both did particularly well during the final 20 lap race and the Volvo’s finished qualifying 3rd and 4th. A fantastic performance by all of the GRM Team locking out the second row and pole position was won by Whincup/Dumbrell (888).Saturday night and as much as the race was still to come, we certainly felt like we were in a position where both cars were capable of winning. The guys spent time analysing strategy and potential outcomes as a result of Safety Car periods at particular stages and discussed the importance of the race car position in pit lane and the performance of the pit crew. Our efforts at Sandown over the past two years have been hampered in pit lane where we have been boxed in during a pit stop under Safety Car in 2014 and mishap during a pit stop last year. The pit stops today are so slick and professional that we often just expect everything to happen smoothly, but there is an immense amount of pressure involved during these stops. With cars separated by mere 10ths on the track the smallest error in pit lane can cost several positions on the track.Sunday and the Melbourne weather looked threatening. I don’t know what we all did without BOM (Bureau of Meteorology), but Krusty (#33 Race Engineer, Richard Hollway) told me back in the HRT early days they had a professor dressed in shorts, long socks and sandals who attended the races with his dog under his arm and if the dog barked it was going to rain (I think that is what he said!).The Sandown circuit is 3.1km. in length and the race is run over 161 laps and the rules require that the co-driver completes a minimum of 54 laps. The strategy by all teams sees the co-drivers start the race and the aim is to have them complete the 54 laps over two stints and then replace them with the main driver for the remaining 107 laps.Race start and Wallee (#33) got a tremendous start and diced for the lead with Warren Luff (HRT) at turn 1, settling into 2nd. Bieber (#34) didn’t quite jump so cleanly off the line and was forced back several positions and made contact with Jack Perkins (HRT) through turns 2 and 3 hitting Jack’s aluminium exhaust surround with his right front wheel. Bieber then headed down the back straight where the cars reach 270kph and brake as they approach turn 5. At this point the right hand front tyre of car #34 blew and Bieber was a passenger as the car catapulted into the tyre barrier on the outside of the track, destroying the front of the car. In these circumstances your immediate thought if for the wellbeing of your driver and there was incredible relief throughout the garage when Bieber radioed in, saying he was ok. Bieber was taken to the medical centre where the medico’s and volunteers do a tremendous job, with very little acknowledgement, thank you!The race restarted and obviously our efforts were now unfortunately centred on one car. David drove a very solid and trouble free first stint racing comfortably in second through to lap 35 when the rain began to fall. Over the next couple of laps all of the cars came into the pit lane to fit wet weather tyres. David lost one spot to Dumbrell (888) during this stop. The weather conditions were unusual in that more rain was falling at the eastern end of the track (turns 1-4). When a car is fitted with wet tyres and the track begins to dry it is vital for the driver to try and keep them cool by looking for wet areas on the track. If the tyres heat up it causes them to over inflate and the car becomes very tricky to drive. Unfortunately for Wallee we let him down a little by having the starting pressures in the tyres a little too high considering the unpredictable rain and as the track began to dry the tyres on car #33 had far too much pressure in them. This caused Wallee to drop back through the pack which considering his first stint was very unfortunate. There was no point in pitting him as more time would be lost as he only 8 laps to complete his mandatory stint, yet the driveability of the car was so poor he lost a position per lap. On the data the engineers could see the issue that David was facing, but to his credit he never complained and did a job that he should be proud of.Scotty jumped in the car on lap 55 and drove like a man possessed. This stint of Scott’s is one of the best that I have witnessed by one of my drivers over the past 30 years. He drove with controlled aggression and raced from 11th on lap 55 to 2nd by lap 74. At this stage slick tyres were put back on the car, but care was required as there were sections of the track where water was still evident and the painted curbs were especially slippery. Scotty continued on from where he began on lap 55 and passed Tander for the lead on lap 79 (there were others on track in front, but hadn’t taken their stop). Tander pressured from behind and really applied the “blowtorch” to Scotty as he could see Van Gisbergen (888) in his mirrors fast approaching. Scott did not put a foot wrong and maintained the lead under this immense pressure. The race had been reduced to 143 laps as a result of Bieber’s earlier crash and the time taken to repair the tyre wall, and this allowed #33 to stop on lap 105 while in the lead for the final time. Tander had a little less fuel to take on at the final stop and Scotty emerged from pit lane behind Tander. Unfortunately after such a perfect drive Scott made a couple of small mistakes in the early stages of this final stint and found himself in 4th. Up front Tander and Luff were very worthy winners from Van Gisbergen/Premat and Will Davison and Jono Webb 3rd.Overall, the weekend had many highs and of course one big disappointment. I felt for Moff who in recent times and including this weekend has shown what he can do, but didn’t get an opportunity on Sunday, yet the incident that ruined he and Bieber’s day was really “just one of those things”. Scotty and Wallee were very impressive and as much as 4th is a good result, I think we all believe that more was on offer.For our DVS team, what a weekend! Bieber won on Sunday and Richard “Meerkat” Muscat had his first podium weekend in DVS. The Meerkat has been a wonderful addition to GRM this year and in between his concreting duties with his dad’s business, travels to Dandenong South to work hard on both his and Bieber’s cars before and after race meetings.To all that follow GRM and Supercar fans in general thank you for the positive feedback we received for the retro livery S60’s we prepared. Also, without going into too much detail our commitment to race Volvo’s in 2017 has not changed. Our relationship with the Volvo Dealers is fantastic and from the feedback I receive what we do certainly helps them to sell cars. I am by no means a litigious person and I have attempted to engage Volvo and resolve this matter in a sensible way. I am obligated to consider my long standing business and 36 employees and their families who rely on me. Unfortunately this has now escalated to a level where the matter is likely to reach the courts.Bathurst here we come, I can’t wait!
Driving in to Sandown Raceway and the memories of my early days of racing always come flooding back, but in the cut and thrust climate of Supercar racing there is very little time for reminiscing. When I saw the Volvo’s in the 1986...
Garry Rogers Motorsport has stepped back 30 years unveiling our livery for this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500.The Volvo S60s have gone back to 1986 with a livery inspired by the Volvo Dealer Team Australian Touring Car Championship winning 240 Turbo.“To be honest I was a little sceptical of the retro round and this was mainly due to the cost and interruption to our business. But, as a result of the enthusiasm of our sponsor group particularly John McMellan from Wilson and their contribution I was convinced that it was a good idea, I am very pleased that they did convince me because the cars look great. The Wilson Security Sandown 500 is an iconic event in our championship and it’s a place that provides me with many fond memories having first raced there in my early model (FX Holden) in 1967 and several years later launching my EH Holden off the causeway and into the dam!
I remember clearly Robbie Francevic invading our shores with the Volvo. It’s ironic that 30 years later we still have a Kiwi behind the wheel of a Volvo. Robbie achieved some remarkable results with the Volvo in 1986 and as much as I am not a superstitious person I pray that the 1986 livery provides us with some successBoth the Volvo S60s, #33 of Scott McLaughlin and David Wall and #34 of James Moffat and James Golding will be sporting the new livery for the Wilson Security Sandown 500.
Garry Rogers Motorsport has stepped back 30 years unveiling our livery for this weekend’s Wilson Security Sandown 500.The Volvo S60s have gone back to 1986 with a livery inspired by the Volvo Dealer Team Australian Touring Car Championship winning 240 Turbo.“To be honest I was...