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Volvo to launch AI-equipped cars from 2021

The Volvo 360c Concept previewed the brand's vision for an autonomous future

The race for complete autonomy continues to heat up, with Volvo today partnering with computing firm NVIDIA to roll out an artificial intelligence-capable core computer that will appear in the brand's next generation of cars.

The new computing platform will appear as part of the Swedish brand's upcoming SPA 2 platform roll-out, due in 2021, with Volvo saying the artificial intelligence-equipped computer will “take considerable steps” toward fully autonomous cars.

NVIDIA's Drive AGX Xavier computer chip can complete up to 30 trillion operations per second, and is considered a key plank in Volvo's autonomous driving plans. Volvo has already promised a Level Four autonomous vehicle by 2021, while the majority of its fleet is expected to offer Level Two autonomy at the same time.

“A successful launch of autonomous drive will require an enormous amount of computing power as well as constant advances in artificial intelligence,” says Volvo president and chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson. “Our agreement with NVIDIA is an important piece of that puzzle and helps us to safely introduce fully autonomous Volvo cars to our customers.”

Driverless technology is measured in five distinct levels. Level One means the car can control a single function automatically, while Level Two allows for a driver to temporarily remove their hands and feet from the controls, and which already exists in some cars today. Level Three reduces the driver to an in-case-of-emergency proposition on some roads, with driver intervention only required if an accident is imminent. Level Four is "eyes off, hands off" motoring, with a car able to complete most trips by itself, while Level Five is complete autonomy in all situations, from highways to gravel tracks, driveways to parking lots.

Are you hanging out for autonomous cars? Or will you always want to drive yourself? Tell us in the comments below.