Volvo has announced a new partnership with Uber that will see the ride sharing service put a fleet of 100 self-driving XC90 SUVs on U.S. roads in the next four months.
Volvo will produce a new “base” vehicle for Uber that will be able to use the latest in autonomous driving technology, up to and including being fully self driving. These base vehicles will be sold to Uber, where they will be outfitted with Uber’s own self-developed autonomous systems, though Volvo will also use the same base vehicle to develop the next generation of its self-driving technology. Uber has already announced that it is buying 100 XC90 SUVs from Volvo right off the bat.
According to Uber, the XC90s will be on the road before the end of 2016 in the Pittsburgh area. For now, an attentive driver is expected to be behind the wheel. Both Volvo and Uber have contributed a combined $300 million to the project.
Volvo and Uber call the alliance “the beginning of what both companies view as a longer term industrial partnership.”
The XC90 is built on the brand’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), a key factor in why Uber wanted it. Since the beginning, SPA was developed to incorporate the latest in self-driving technology. Uber will outfit the XC90 with its own self-driving systems, including lidar, radar and a suite of camera, though Volvo engineers will help with the process.
“Over one million people die in car accidents every year. These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone,” said Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive. “That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important. Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”
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