TALLINN - The Estonian ride-sharing service Bolt and the University of Tartu are jointly developing technologies for self-driving cars with the first test drives in traffic planned for next year, while actual autonomous vehicles are forecast to be available on Bolt platforms in seven years' time.
"Many tech companies are developing their own self-driving vehicles; our objective instead is to build a technology for self-driving cars based on freeware and existing map apps. This gives us an excellent opportunity to use Bolt developers' knowledge of machine learning, maps and the optimization thereof," Jevgeni Kabanov, chief product officer at Bolt, said in a press release.
The objective of the cooperation project is developing technologies that enable for self-driving vehicles to operate on the fourth level of vehicle autonomy, which means that generally, no driver attention is required, except in uncharted areas or extreme weather conditions.
Bolt and the University of Tartu will test the pilot projects of their autonomous vehicles in suitable urban conditions next year and have set a long-term goal of integrating the technology with Bolt's transport platform by 2026.
"Our cooperation with Bolt gives us an opportunity to test the technology of self-driving cars in actual traffic conditions already in the course of the development. Students will also be included in the experiments to prepare them for a future career in the area of autonomous technologies," Anne Jaager, head of industry collaboration at the Institute of Computer Science of the University of Tartu, said.
Bolt's vision entails rendering urban transport swifter, more convenient and reliable.
"The demand for transport services in on the rise. With the help of self-driving vehicles, we will be better equipped to solve transportation problems on an even broader scale," Kabanov said.