Volvo and Uber to Collaborate on Autonomous Vehicles
Swedish automaker Volvo Cars and carsharing service Uber announced they would collaborate on a project to develop “next-generation autonomous cars,” according to the carmaker.
The companies signed an agreement August 18 to establish a joint project to develop new base vehicles that could be fit with autonomous technologies, including fully autonomous cars. Those vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo and purchased by Uber, which will fit its own autonomous-driving tech. The companies are contributing a total of $300 million to the project.
The vehicle that results from the project will be based on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which currently underpins the XC90 SUV and its S90 and V90 siblings. SPA is an ideal place to start, as it gives Volvo economies of scale by spreading development costs out across a few different model lines. Unlike some other modular platforms, however, Volvo’s SPA has the new-tech capability needed by a self-driving automobile, since it was designed from the outset with autonomous drive technology and advanced connectivity. Accompanying Volvo’s press release are images of its popular XC90 fit with autonomous-drive accessories.
According to Volvo’s press release, both companies view the partnership as a long-term industrial teamup. It’s not the first time a tech company has joined with an automaker, as Google and Fiat Chrysler have teamed up to build a self-driving Pacifica minivan. Furthermore, the search engine-turned-infotech giant has used Toyota and Lexus crossovers to test its autonomous tech in the past. And one could argue that Tesla is both a Silicon Valley tech company and an automaker.
A time table hasn’t been released yet, but given Ford ambitiously boasted it would get a self-driving car into ridesharing fleets (probably not Uber’s) in five years, one could assume both Uber and Volvo would be eager to beat the Blue Oval to the punch. Volvo was one of the first companies to get into the traffic-monitoring and collision mitigation game with City Safety, and its unrelated Drive Me program will begin testing autonomous XC90s on specified test routes in Sweden next year. With all that under its belt, we won’t be betting against the company behind the iconic Ironmark logo any time soon.