Uber and Volvo to launch self-driving fleet

Uber will launch a fleet of autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, USA later this month.

Uber and Volvo to launch self-driving fleet

The on-demand ride company has partnered with Volvo to use specially-modified Volvo XC90s which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat.

Following a $300m (£228.6m) deal earlier this year, Volvo has delivered some of the 100 Volvo XC90s agreed to Uber in a bid for a fully-autonomous car to be road-ready by the year 2021.

Users will be able to request a car over the Uber app in Pittsburgh, and will be randomly matched with a driverless car. The service will begin free of charge.

The Volvo deal is the latest in Uber’s push to replace its more than 1m drivers with technological advancements.

In 2015, Uber hired John Bares, founder of Carnegie Robotics and former head of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Centre to pioneer its autonomous cars idea.

Bares was approached by Travis Kalanick, chief executive officer and co-founder of Uber. Bares told Bloomberg: “Travis had an idea that he wanted to do self-driving. I turned him down three times. But the case was pretty compelling.”

In July, Uber acquired Otto, a San Francisco-based technology start-up specialising in self-driving large goods vehicles (LGVs).

Reportedly, Otto’s founders left Google’s autonomous driving operations in January

In the future, Uber aims to partner with more car manufacturers rather than produce their own models.

Kalanick believes Uber’s app data, which includes more than 100m miles a day, will give it an edge, and boost mapping and navigation systems for self-driving. By partnering with Volvo, Kalanick hopes to improving standards of driving safety.

Kalanick said: “Over one million people die in car accidents every year. These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone. That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important.

“Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”