Uber, Volvo, and tech startup Otto are teaming up to "rethink transportation" with new self-driving vehicle fleet.
(CCM) — On Thursday, Uber Technologies announced its acquisition of San Francisco-based tech startup, Otto Motors, as part of its initiative to develop an autonomous fleet that will make roads safer. The 90-person startup was founded earlier this year with a focus on developing and manufacturing laser detection systems and self-driving technology for trucks. The team includes former Google employee Anthony Levandowski, one of the leaders of Google's self-driving program, Lior Ron, an ex-product lead for Google Maps, as well as a number of other high-profile faces from Apple and Tesla. Levandowski will reportedly lead Uber's combined self-driving efforts across personal transportation, trucking, and delivery in select cities around the United States. Also announced on Thursday was a $300 million partnership between Uber and Volvo Car Group that will focus on the development of a new line of autonomous SUVs. The two companies will reportedly split the cost of investment in the fleet, and once manufactured, the cars will be equipped with Uber's driverless control system.
This new alliance positions Uber to become the leader in the race to develop the first fully autonomous vehicle, uniting technological, practical, and manufacturing expertise under one roof. "Partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy, because Uber has no experience making cars," said Uber CEO and Co-founder, Travis Kalanick, in a statement. "By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone." While the release date for this autonomous fleet remains uncertain, reports indicate that the goal is to finish development by 2021.
Image: © Uber.