Volvo plays with magnets for autonomous cars

Summary:Remember trying to keep your line in the road when learning to drive? Volvo hopes magnets will do the same for autonomous vehicles.


Volvo Car Group is testing road magnets in order to position autonomous vehicles correctly in the road.

The automaker's research project uses magnets embedded within the road to help the car determine its position -- in the same way human drivers use colored markings. While GPS tracking and cameras have limitations in conditions such as poor weather or broken network connections, magnets would be unaffected by these.

Volvo says the research, which is funded in part by the Swedish Transport Administration (Trafikverket), is "a potential key to the implementation of self-driving vehicles."

Jonas Ekmark, Preventive Safety Leader at Volvo Car Group said:

"The magnets create an invisible 'railway' that literally paves the way for a positioning inaccuracy of less than one decimetre. We have tested the technology at a variety of speeds and the results so far are promising."

Volvo's autonomous driving pilot, when ready, will see 100 autonomous vehicles using public roads around the Swedish city of Gothenburg. Adding magnets to road infrastructure could be a simple and a cost-effective way of getting such vehicles on to our streets.

"Our experience so far is that ferrite magnets are an efficient, reliable and relatively cheap solution, both when it comes to the infrastructure and on-board sensor technology. The next step is to conduct tests in real-life traffic," Ekmark noted.

Read on: Volvo

This post was originally published on

Topics: Innovation


Charlie Osborne, a medical anthropologist who studied at the University of Kent, UK, is a journalist, freelance photographer and former teacher. She has spent years travelling and working across Europe and the Middle East as a teacher, and has been involved in the running of businesses ranging from media and events to B2B sales. Charli... Full Bio

zdnet_core.socialButton.googleLabel Contact Disclosure

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.

Related Stories

The best of ZDNet, delivered

You have been successfully signed up. To sign up for more newsletters or to manage your account, visit the Newsletter Subscription Center.
Subscription failed.