Volvo Cars will work with Uber to develop a fleet of autonomous ride-sharing vehicles. The $300 million project will see Volvo developing self-driving vehicles, which Uber will then purchase for use in its ride-sharing fleet.
The autonomous car will be based on the same Volvo Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) platform used for the XC90, S90, and V90 models. Volvo will sell its own version of the autonomous vehicle, while Uber will take that vehicle and add “its own self-developed autonomous driving systems.”
Though Volvo gives the impression it is developing a new vehicle based on SPA for Uber, these images show how an XC90 crossover could be equipped with sensors for self-driving functions and rebranded with Uber’s marketing logos. Volvo says the SPA platform will be upgraded to have “all needed safety, redundancy and new features required” for autonomous driving.
Engineers from Volvo and Uber will work “in close collaboration,” with both companies describing the deal as a long-term partnership.
Volvo has already invested heavily into developing semi- and fully autonomous technologies. The company is launching a test fleet of autonomous XC90 crossovers in Gothenberg, Sweden, and has publicly promised that by 2020, nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo vehicle.
Self-driving ride-sharing cars have huge potential because they could cut out the companies’ biggest costs and liabilities: human drivers. Uber, for its part, is already testing autonomous Ford Fusions. And rival ride-sharing company Lyft is also working on self-driving vehicles, with plans to have autonomous Chevy Bolt EVs testing from next year.
Gallery: Volvo to build autonomous cars for Uber
Volvo Cars, the Swedish premium car maker, and Uber, the world’s leading ride-sharing company, are to join forces to develop next generation autonomous driving cars.
The two companies have signed an agreement to establish a joint project that will develop new base vehicles that will be able to incorporate the latest developments in AD technologies, up to and including fully autonomous driverless cars. The base vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo Cars and then purchased from Volvo by Uber. Volvo Cars and Uber are contributing a combined USD 300M to the project.
Both Uber and Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of their own autonomous car strategies. This will involve Uber adding its own self-developed autonomous driving systems to the Volvo base vehicle. Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of its own autonomous car strategy, which will involve fully autonomous driving.
The Volvo-Uber project marks a significant step in the automotive business with a car manufacturer joining forces with a new Silicon Valley-based entrant to the car industry, underlining the way in which the global automotive industry is evolving in response to the advent of new technologies. The alliance marks the beginning of what both companies view as a longer term industrial partnership.
Volvo Cars and Uber join forces to develop autonomous driving cars
Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said: “Volvo is one of the most progressive and contemporary car makers in the world. It is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology and possesses an unrivaled safety credibility. We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber, one of the world’s leading technology companies. This alliance places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”
The new base vehicle will be developed on Volvo Cars’ fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). SPA is one of the most advanced car architectures in the world and is currently used on Volvo Cars’ top-of-the-line multiple award winning XC90 SUV, as well as the S90 premium sedan and V90 premium estate.
SPA has been developed as part of Volvo Cars’ USD11bn global industrial transformation programme, which started in 2010, and has been prepared from the outset for the latest autonomous drive technologies as well as next generation electrification and connectivity developments. It is these capabilities that attracted Uber to Volvo.
The development work will be conducted by Volvo Cars engineers and Uber engineers in close collaboration. This project will further add to the scalability of the SPA platform to include all needed safety, redundancy and new features required to have autonomous vehicles on the road.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said: “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. 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.”