Volvo said it has forged a partnership with Uber worth $300 million that will lead to the latter buying a fleet of 100 XC90 plug-in hybrid SUVs capable of driving on its own. The project envisages deploying 100 of the XC90 SUVs in Pittsburgh by the end of the year with the feedback thus received then forming the basis of further development of autonomous driving technology at Volvo.
According to The Verge, none of the XC90s will be featuring any of the self-driving technology that Volvo has developed. Instead, the SUVs have been suitably modified according to the specifications of the autonomous vehicle control package developed in-house by Uber. That includes equipping the vehicles with radars, camera, lidar, additional sensor along with enhanced computational capability as well.
Uber stated they had developed the hardware and matching software at its Pittsburgh tech center which had become operational just 20 months ago.
As AutoNews have revealed, the self-driving XC90s thus produced will have two Uber employees in the front seat. While one will be there to take control if needed, the other would be recording the feedback received from the driver and the vehicle in another computer.
As part of the deal, Volvo would be using the same vehicle to develop autonomous driving cars of its own. The Swedish automaker stated they are already working on a new version of the XC90 with autonomous driving tech built-into it.
Volvo though said the new SUV will conform to level 4 autonomy, which means there will be a driver present behind the wheels to take control even though the vehicle will be able to drive on its own. The company is also slated to begin trials of its own 'DriveMe tech' next year in Sweden, the US, the UK, and China.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg also reported the Uber deal with Volvo isn't exclusive as the ride-hailing service's will still have the option to partner with other companies as it rushes to fine tune its autonomous driving technology.