Volvo has announced that it has entered into an agreement with ride-hailing service Uber to supply “tens of thousands” of autonomous-capable vehicles between 2019 and 2021.
The agreement is part of an ongoing agreement between the two companies which reaches back as far as 2016, with Volvo providing the base vehicles equipped with the hardware required for at least partial self-driving.
Uber will then adapt its own self-driving technologies to work with the compatible Volvo vehicles. In a somewhat interesting twist, Volvo will continue to develop its own autonomous drive systems in parallel with a view to launching its own fully autonomous vehicle in 2021
The latest agreement is part of a non-exclusive arrangement (meaning Uber can still source vehicles elsewhere) to supply vehicles based on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture, which includes the XC90, S90, V90, and new XC60 models.
“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo's president and chief executive said.
“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.”
Volvo has previously gone on the record to say that any automaker should be fully-responsible for its own autonomously-controlled vehicles in the event of an accident. At this stage the company hasn’t detailed if that responsibility extends to vehicles with non-OEM developed software, as will be the case with the Uber agreement.
Special preparation for the fleet of up to 24,000 vehicles goes beyond that of the current 90-series range, with built in redundancy systems to take control of steering and braking to allow fully driverless operation, even in the event of a malfunction.
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