Uber, Volvo, XC90
Volvo's driverless XC90 will pick up Uber customers. Image credit: Volvo Cars .

Volvo Car Corporation, the Swedish luxury car maker, and Uber, the world’s leading online transportation network company, have agreed on a $300 million alliance. They are going to develop self-driving cars. Uber will provide its autonomous driving systems to the Volvo base vehicle, the XC90.

The two companies signed the agreement to produce base cars that can incorporate the latest advances in autonomous driving technologies. Volvo and Uber’s ultimate goal is to make those vehicles fully driverless.

Volvo will manufacture such cars, and then, it will sell them to Uber. So basically, both will use the same base car for the next stage of their autonomous vehicle strategy.

Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick said the company shares Volvo’s objectives. Both of them want to provide safety through autonomous driving technologies. He added avoiding tragedies involving car accidents was one of the joint project’s primary goals.

Volvo followed Ford’s footsteps

The Volvo-Uber team is the latest of a recent trend of companies joining forces to push forward sophisticated technologies such as driverless cars and deep learning.

Two days ago, Ford Motor Company and China’s leading search engine company Baidu invested $150 million on Velodyne’s LiDAR tech for use in autonomous vehicles, vehicle safety systems, and 3D mobile mapping.

Google’s self-driving cars and Tesla’s autopilot systems are pioneers and leaders in the business, but more and more companies are entering the race. Recently, General Motors vowed to challenge them with its $1 billion purchase of Cruise Automation.

Meanwhile, Volkswagen made a deal in the fashion of Volvo, and they could be its most direct rivals. The German automaker invested $300 million in Gett, the European rival of Uber.

Uber to launch self-driving Volvo service with the XC90

Later this month, Uber will allow customers in Pittsburgh to request self-driving cabs from their phones, a feat not even Google or Tesla Motors have achieved.

For the time being, human drivers will supervise Uber’s autonomous fleet, who can take control of the cars in case of any event. The fleet will be composed of sensor-equipped Volvo XC90 SUVs that employ cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers.

The XC90 model uses Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), one of the most advanced car architectures in the world, according to Volvo. The new base vehicle will also use SPA, which was the main reason for Uber to ally with Volvo. SPA is part of Volvo’s $11 billion global industrial transformation program. The company geared it up to develop the latest autonomous drive technologies.

Source: Volvo Cars