Sunday, August 21, 2016

Your Next Uber Maybe a Volvo. And It Might be Driverless Too.

The next time you hail a car from the ride-sharing app, Uber, it may not have a driver at all. That’s if Volvo has anything to do with it. In a landmark agreement, the Swedish luxury carmaker has inked a deal with the world’s leading ride-sharing company to develop the next-generation of autonomous driving cars.

Volvo and Uber have agreed to establish a joint project that will develop new base vehicles that will be able to incorporate the latest development in autonomous driving technology, up to and including a fully autonomous driverless car. As part of the agreement, the vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo Cars and then purchased from Volvo by Uber.

Volvo and Uber are contributing a combined USD 300 million 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.

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’ USD 11 billion global industrial transformation program, 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.

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