Automation

Uber Buys Volvo SUVs to Bolster Self-Driving Fleet

The Swedish carmaker is said to have worked closely with the ride-hailing company to develop and scale the autonomous technology.

by Samantha Masunaga, Los Angeles Times / November 21, 2017
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(TNS) -- Volvo said Monday that it will sell tens of thousands of vehicles to Uber Technologies that will be the ride-hailing company’s self-driving fleet.

The so-called base vehicles will be developed off of car architecture currently used on Volvo’s 90 series cars and the XC60 midsize SUV. Volvo said in a statement that its engineers have worked closely with Uber to develop the technology on another SUV currently on the market.

The autonomous vehicle fleet will number 24,000 vehicles, according to the Wall Street Journal. It’s unclear when the vehicles would be put on the road. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Jeff Miller, head of auto alliances at San Francisco-based Uber, said in a statement that the agreement puts the company on a “path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”

The Swedish carmaker, acquired by Chinese automaker Geely Holding in 2012, said it also plans to use the base vehicle in the development of its own “independent autonomous car strategy.” The automaker said it plans to release its first fully autonomous car in 2021.

The “framework agreement,” which Volvo said was nonexclusive, builds on an earlier agreement from 2016 in which the two companies said they would co-develop autonomous vehicles.

Uber has increased its interest in self-driving technology.

Last year, the company began offering rides in self-driving Ford Fusions to passengers in Pittsburgh as part of a test of Uber’s self-driving technology. The firm has also opened an advanced technologies group focused on self-driving-technology development, vehicle safety and mapping.

Competitor Lyft has also doubled down on development of autonomous vehicle technology. The San Francisco ride-hailing firm set up a unit to develop autonomous vehicle technology this past summer. It has also formed partnerships with General Motors and Waymo, the self-driving car company created by Google.

©2017 Los Angeles Times Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.