|By Kathy Fey | 3 years ago|
Uber’s driverless-car ambitions got a boost from Volvo with a recently announced deal in which Volvo will sell Uber up to 24,000 of its XC90 SUVs for Uber to convert into a fleet of self-driving cars. Volvo will also collaborate with Uber on developing workable self-driving vehicle systems that will enable the cars to navigate themselves.
Uber is already testing self-driving XC90s on public roadways in Arizona, California, and Pennsylvania. The test cars move and steer themselves but have human drivers on board to troubleshoot the software and intervene if the car system malfunctions.
“Our goal was from day one to make investments into a vehicle that could be manufactured at scale,” Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of automotive alliances, said.
The new Xc90s will go a step further and incorporate automated braking and steering systems that may enable them to complete test drives without any human on board. The deal is reportedly worth around $1.4 billion and will take place in a series of car purchases throughout 2019 and 2021.
The actual number of cars Uber will buy can change, depending on Uber’s needs, an Uber spokesman said. The spokesman added that the deal allows Uber to buy cars from other car makers besides Volvo if it chooses.
Volvo and Uber have been cooperating on self-driving car development for almost three years. The two companies pooled together $300 million in 2016 for researching self-driving cars’ steering, brake features, sensors, and other components.
A 24,000-car sale would be the biggest company-to-company transaction in the history of self-driving cars if it goes through, however. It would also be a major business shift for Uber, which built its brand on human-driven ridesharing services.