Volvo has announced a tentative agreement with Uber to deliver up to 24,000 XC90 SUV’s between 2019 and 2021. Volvo hope this will position their company as the leader of the autonomous vehicle revolution.
Uber has been using vehicles from the Chinese-owned, Swedish vehicle manufacturer, Volvo for a while now. The expansion of the detail signals the success of the Uber Advanced Technologies Group in Pittsburgh. On November 20th, Volvo announced it is supplying Uber with an additional 24,000 units of autonomous XC90s totaling to $1.4 billion. Volvo is built its brand built on safety but it’s their technology that Uber needs. In an interview with Business Insider, a Volvo spokesperson clarified its role in this partnership and that is to deliver engineering collaboration and support on the vehicles.
Self-driving cars is one of the solutions Uber proposed to minimize accidents and maximize profits. This move is getting mixed reactions from its patrons. In some cases, the automated vehicles are more defensive than most of human-driven cars. At a panel in November 2016, Jeff Schneider Engineering Lead at Uber ATG talked about issues tracking and accounting for pedestrians.
Uber also reassures its passengers that they are still in good hands as two full time employees will be deployed for each unit. One will be in-charge of the wheel and another to keep an eye on the computer software. This is the permanent set-up effective from the prototype testing.
It was in May of 2016, Uber deployed the first phase of self driving cars in Pittsburgh, PA. A hybrid Ford Fusion roamed the steel city streets while it collected mapping data. With the city’s advanced engineering talent and research facilities, Pittsburgh was chosen as the perfect venue for the project. As Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto said the city has come a long way in the history of innovation. The city’s wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions were also big factors that were considered in choosing the place.
The idea of driverless cars is not a foreign language. It was first introduced to us by Houdina Radio Control. Houdina operated “American Wonder”, a 1926 Chandler that was controlled via radio frequency. It was tested in the busy streets of New York. In 1984, Carnegie Mellon University’s Navigation Laboratory presented the first driverless van.
Uber’s future depends on cracking the self driving taxi service. This deal represents a major leap in that direction.