Say hello to Uber’s self-driving car.
The transportation startup and Volvo have agreed a $300 million alliance to develop autonomous vehicles — and they will be hitting the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania this month.
The deal is a clear indication of Uber’s determination to ditch drivers in in its minicabs, and is the latest move by traditional vehicle manufacturers looking to team up with Silicon Valley firms long seen as disruptive threats to their industry.
The partnership, which was reported by Bloomberg, will see the Swedish-based carmaker, owned by China’s Geely, and ride-hailing service Uber, pool resources into initially developing the autonomous driving capabilities of Volvo’s flagship XC90 SUV. The investment will be roughly shared equally by the two companies.
Uber will purchase Volvos and then install its own driverless control system for the specific needs of its ride-hailing service. And Volvo will use the same vehicle for its own autonomous driving project, which is based on a plan that still envisages having a driver in the car.
The investment will go towards researching and developing both hardware, such as sensors used to detect traffic and obstacles, as well as software for the self driving cars.
The vehicles are being launched in Pittsburgh this week on a trial basis, Bloomberg reports: Uber customers who order a cab may randomly be sent one of the self-driving vehicles, which — at this stage — will have a human in the driver seat supervising.
Uber also recently bought up Otto, a driverless truck startup for a price of as much as $680 million.