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Volvo says autonomous driving must be part of a broader mobility solution (Photo: Volvo Cars)

Volvo Cars said it is happy with the test results of a fleet of self-driving vehicles that is gaining experience around the city of Gothenburg.

"The test cars are now able to handle lane following, speed adaption and merging traffic all by themselves," said Erik Coelingh, a technical specialist at the Swedish carmaker.

Volvo said in a press release that the test is an important step toward full deployment of its so-called "Autopilot" technology, which can take care of all driving functions.

The auto industry has been stepping up efforts to eventually build a car that can drive itself, as driver distraction is becoming an ever bigger problem. As cars become connected, the range of infotainment options increases and drivers' attention is too often drawn to activities that are unrelated to the core driving function.

Many of the world's biggest car brands have over the past year rolled out prototypes of autonomous vehicles. At the Frankfurt auto show last year, Mercedes-Benz showed how a Mercedes S-Class had driven more than 100 kilometers by itself on regular roads in Germany. Competitor Audi has forecast that autonomous-vehicle technology will be available before the end of the decade. And Nissan, which has also predicted the commercial implementation of its "autonomous drive" technology before 2020, has recently been conducting trials on public roads.

The Volvo tests are part of the company's "Drive Me" project, which also involves legislators and transport authorities. The initiative aims to have 1oo cars on the roads around Gothenburg to test everyday driving conditions on about 50km of roadway. The roads, which are typical commuter stretches, include motorways and frequent traffic queues.

Volvo's Coelingh said smarter cars are part of the solution for achieving sustainable personal mobility, but a "broad societal approach" is essential. Said the Volvo executive: "Cross-functional co-operation is the key to a successful implementation of self-driving vehicles."