Swedish Company Turns Normal Cars Into Self-Driving Vehicles

Swedish Company Turns Normal Cars Into Self-Driving Vehicles

The company transforms normal cars into temporary self-driving vehicles to improve logistics around the production line

Anna Johansson
  • 2 october 2017

Big-name companies have been using Detroit as a testing ground for self-driving vehicles lately. In fact, they’re expecting that the first consumer-owned driverless vehicles will hit the market within just a few years.

Swedish technology firm, Semcon, wants to use the technology to significantly reduce the number of people who drive in your car. The initiative is called Born to Drive, and it involves a number of high-profile contributors.

The focus is on converting existing vehicles into self-driving ones during the production stage. They’ll use the existing software in high-end cars to create self-driving routes.

“What makes Born to Drive unique is that it is entirely a software solution,” Johan Isacson, Project Manager for Born to Drive explained in a New Atlas interview. “This makes the system both cost-efficient and scalable. Since there is already a working prototype, the system could be implemented within just a few years.”

As of now, the Born to Drive initiative is still in the prototype stage. Designers said they got the idea from the number of times that a vehicle must be driven before it reaches the lot. The average car has about 25 drivers by the time it arrives at the dealership, including moving it from the production line, shifting it to the transportation vehicle, moving it around the lot, etc.

By the time first car owner gets to it, a brand new car already has a couple of thousand miles on it, and it’s been driven several times. Additionally, there’s a possibility of accidents as it goes from location to location, and liability is huge for manufacturers and dealers alike.

If successful, Born to Drive will eliminate liability and reduce mileage on brand new cars. Virtually no one will have to drive the vehicle during the production stages because a controller will carefully monitor the vehicle as it takes a familiar route from one place to another. The self-driving technology should eliminate accidents and save production lines a lot of money.

“Currently, the software can steer cars from the production line to a collection point, but the hope is that it will soon be able to handle more complex maneuvers while controlling and tracking the entire logistics flow of the vehicles,” explains David Szondy from New Atlas in his report of the exciting technology. “The company says it will even be able to tell if the fuel tank needs topping up.”

Semcon is working with many different technology companies, component manufacturers, government agencies, and Volvo Cars to bring this project to fruition. They’re working round the clock to develop control algorithms, maps, vehicle positioning, communication, and traffic routing systems that can be integrated into the existing software of today’s top-of-the-line vehicles.

Specifically, Volvo Car Group will be heavily involved in the logistics division to ensure efficient ordering and receiving of the right products. Combitech is a big part of the project management, and ACTIA, Consat, and Semcon are working in tandem on system design, testing solutions, and development.

“Through the collaborative Born To Drive project, many parties will create important new expertise in order to develop and meet future needs in one of the region’s growth areas,” says Kent-Eric Lång, Program Director Vehicle ICT Arena.

The Born to Drive project is hoping to go mainstream by 2018. This is an exciting announcement as far as vehicle manufacturing goes, but it’s hard to miss the broader implications that such an innovative technology might bring to the vehicle market as a whole. If this Swedish company can make a car drive itself around a production lot, what’s to stop them from turning any existing high-tech vehicle into permanent self-driving units?

Despite the fact that these cars are expected to reduce accidents on the roadway by 90 percent, and of course the high convenience factor, there’s a lot of resistance to the tech given the risk of job loss and adjusting to the new technology.

Like every other product in the United States, laws against monopolies will eventually drive autonomous vehicle prices down, but it may be a few decades before the prices are low enough to completely eradicate non self-driving vehicles for safer, more efficient streets. The ability to turn an existing vehicle into an autonomous one would make it significantly cheaper than purchasing a brand new driverless vehicle off the lot.

Additionally, what will we do with all the regular vehicles once we have the full emergence of autonomous vehicles? They might not disappear altogether, but if predictions are correct, the number of self-driving cars will eventually significantly outnumber regular vehicles. Old vehicles can be recycled and turned into autonomous units, but that could lead to an overload of recycling and other economic concerns.

The ability to turn regular vehicles into self-driving ones should be fully explored, especially with the technology that Born to Drive plans on using. It could change the future of logistics as well as the future of cars as we know them.


Big-name companies have been using Detroit as a testing ground for self-driving vehicles lately. In fact, they’re expecting that the first consumer-owned driverless vehicles will hit the market within just a few years.


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