The cars could hit streets in a few weeks, not years.
In as little as a few short weeks, an army of self-driving Volvo XC90s could descend onto the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. These Volvos will be bearing Uber stickers and a technological sensor hat to commence a partnership between the Swedish automaker and the San Francisco-based rideshare company. The marriage between the two companies holds $300 million in the balance and will involve Volvo supplying Uber with XC90s infused with semi-autonomous driving capabilities.
Already, 100 such XC90s have been delivered to Uber to begin testing, which will involve having two Uber employees sit up front, one tasked with switching between driving and letting the car drive while the other takes notes on the car's performance. The XC90's autonomous hardware will be used to evolve Uber's own self-driving suite of technology. To do this, Uber will outfit the 100 Volvos with an array of sensors that includes lidar, radar, extra cameras, computers, and software, all of which was designed at its Pittsburgh technology center. Combined, these systems will allow the SUV to drive itself. Out of the deal, Volvo will get to join forces to advance its own crusade for the self-driving car, which it has already begun testing.
In a statement, the Swedish automaker said, "Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of its own autonomous car strategy, which will involve fully autonomous driving." The automaker is already hard at work on its own autonomous technology and has recently announced that it is currently occupied with building a new version of the XC90 that can drive itself, provided that there's a driver in the captain's chair. The move backs up the fact that rideshare companies are looking into the future when it comes to providing transportation services and see it as more beneficial to team up with automakers rather than to try and build cars. Look how well that's worked for Apple so far.