After years of development, Volvo Cars and Uber have a self-driving car ready for production. It’s a variant of the XC90 SUV which integrates Uber’s autonomous driving equipment.
The two industry giants have been working together on the project since 2016, with several prototypes being road tested mostly in cities in the United States. Volvo also has its own ‘Drive Me’ autonomous driving experiment that has been running concurrent to their project with Uber.
The self-driving XC90 hasn’t been given a special name or anything. Probably because any base model XC90 can be readily retrofitted with Uber’s self-driving systems to be fully converted.
However, there is a key difference here. In this ‘production ready’ version, Volvo have installed several back-up systems for braking and steering functions. It also has a back-up battery. These systems will enable the car to immediately and safely bring itself to a stop should any of the main systems fail.
Uber’s self-driving systems include an array of sensors on top and inside the vehicle. Last year, a crash involving one of the prototypes in this project resulted in the death of a pedestrian. An investigation into the matter revealed that it was mostly Uber’s equipment that caused it and that Volvo’s systems were turned off at the time.
Volvo Cars will continue to develop similar programs for future autonomous variants of their models beginning 2020. They will also integrate these technologies into their next large vehicle platform, SPA2.
About Volvo Car Group
Volvo Cars was founded in 1927. Today, it is one of the most well-known and respected premium car brands in the world with sales of 642,253 cars in 2018 in about 100 countries. Volvo Cars has been under the ownership of the Zhejiang Geely Holding of China since 2010.
In 2018, Volvo Cars employed on average approximately 43,000 (39,500) full-time employees. Volvo Cars head office, product development, marketing and administration functions are mainly located in Gothenburg, Sweden. Volvo Cars head office for China is located in Shanghai. The company’s main car production plants are located in Gothenburg (Sweden), Ghent (Belgium), South Carolina (US), Chengdu and Daqing (China), while engines are manufactured in Skövde (Sweden) and Zhangjiakou (China) and body components in Olofström (Sweden).
Under its new company purpose, Volvo Cars aims to provide customers with the Freedom to Move in a personal, sustainable and safe way. This purpose is reflected into a number of business ambitions: by the middle of next decade it aims for half of its global sales to be fully electric cars and to offer half of all cars to customers via its subscription service. By then, it also expects one-third of its cars sold to be autonomous.