The ride-sharing service has signed an agreement with Volvo to buy tens of thousands of driverless cars.
(CCM) — Uber has taken a major step on the road to launching a large-scale autonomous ride sharing service by signing an agreement with Volvo to buy tens of thousands of vehicles.
Volvo's engineers have worked with Uber to develop a base version of its XC90 car which incorporates safety, redundancy, and core autonomous driving technologies, and which Uber can take and modify by adding its own self-driving technology. "This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale," said Jeff Miller, Uber's head of auto alliances.
Self-driving vehicles are seen by many people as the obvious future for ride-sharing companies such as Uber, but moving to a driverless model may prove politically difficult given that hundreds of thousands or possibly more than a million people drive for Uber on a regular or occasional basis in the U.S. alone.
The deal is non-exclusive, and Volvo hopes to sell its base vehicles to Uber's competitors. These could include Google, Baidu, and Lyft. "Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD (autonomous drive) ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction," said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo's chief executive.
Volvo will use the same base vehicle in the development of its own fully autonomous car, which the company hopes to launch in 2021. Volvo is owned by Chinese company Gheely Holding.
Image: © Volvo.