The computing power needed to allow autonomous driving in future Volvos will be provided by Nvidia following an agreement between the two companies.

Although the financial terms of the deal have yet to be finalised, Volvo says the US computing firm will supply its Drive Orin system for use in cars built around Volvo’s next-generation SPA2 modular architecture.

The system is capable of performing 254 trillion operations per second. The Swedish car maker says this kind of capacity is needed to process the information collected by its Lidar (Light Detection and Ranging) system and enable safe and continuously updated autonomous driving.

The first car to be fitted with the technology will be the new XC90 SUV, which is due to be launched next year.

“We believe in partnering with the world’s leading technology firms to build the best Volvos possible,” said Henrik Green, Volvo’s chief technology officer. “With the help of Nvidia Drive Orin technology, we can take safety to the next level on our next generation of cars.”

Volvos using the new SPA2 platform will be ‘hardware-ready’ for autonomous driving from the moment they enter production, and the company says it will switch on its Highway Pilot feature – which provides ‘unsupervised autonomous driving’ – when it becomes legal to use in different countries and territories.

Fully self-driving vehicles are not currently permitted on UK roads. A government consultation into Automated Lane Keeping System (ALKS) technology was launched last year, but the roadmap to legalising fully autonomous cars remains unclear.

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Critics have warned that adequate technology could take decades to develop, and that laws governing the safety and liability of such systems pose complex, long-term challenges.

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