Let's hope it has better safety technology than last year's prototype that killed a pedestrian.
Uber has been testing prototype self-driving Volvo cars for several years now, one of which struck and killed a pedestrian in Arizona last year after it failed to detect them crossing the street. Since then, the technology has evolved significantly, to the point that Volvo has just presented the first production car capable of driving itself thanks to Uber's self-driving technology.
Once again, an XC90 SUV is being used as the base vehicle and is equipped with safety features that allow Uber to easily install its own self-driving system, paving the way for self-driving cars to be used for an autonomous ridesharing service. In addition to Volvo's built-in back-up systems, an array of sensors sit atop the vehicle and are designed to allow Uber's self-driving system to safely operate and maneuver in an urban environment. Uber's self-driving technology is now so advanced that it "may one day allow for safe, reliable autonomous ridesharing without the need for a Mission Specialist, the specially trained Uber employees operating and overseeing the cars in areas designated and suitable for autonomous driving."
"We believe autonomous drive technology will allow us to further improve safety, the foundation of our company," said Hakan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. "By the middle of the next decade we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous. Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world's leading ride-hailing companies."
"Working in close cooperation with companies like Volvo is a key ingredient to effectively building a safe, scalable, self-driving fleet," said Eric Meyhofer, CEO of Uber Advanced Technologies Group. "Volvo has long been known for their commitment to safety, which is the cornerstone of their newest production-ready self-driving base vehicle. When paired with our self-driving technology, this vehicle will be a key ingredient in Uber's autonomous product suite."
Volvo says it plans to use a similar autonomous base vehicle concept for the introduction of its future autonomous drive cars in the early 2020s. These technologies will be introduced on the next generation of Volvo models based on the SPA2 vehicle architecture and will include "features designed to enable unsupervised autonomous drive in clearly designated areas such as highways and ring roads."