A complex network of sensors, lasers and a cloud-based positioning system are part of a plan from Volvo Cars to have 100 self-driving cars on the road by 2017.

Volvo's project to put self-driving cars on the streets of Gothenburg is entering its second year. It aims to let ordinary people drive a car with an autopilot in normal traffic on public roads.

"The key to success is combining sensors, computers and a chassis system in a clever way," said Erik Coelingh, a technical specialist at Volvo told us.

The self-driving car will need to know exactly where it is, something Volvo hopes to achieve using an exact positioning system with a complete 360° view of the car's surroundings. By combining multiple radars, cameras and laser sensors, a network of computers will generate a real-time map of moving and stationary objects near the car. In combination with GPS, the car will know exactly where it is.

Volvo plans to use a tri-focal camera placed behind the upper part of the windscreen to spot objects. It acts like three cameras in one and will provide a broad view to detect cars cutting in from the side. A medium field of view looking straight ahead can be used to follow lane markers on the road and a very narrow long range view can detect debris on the road.

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