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21 November 2017, 01:01 | Frank Carlson
Volvo and Uber expand tie-up in race to dominate self-driving cars
Volvo doesn't make self-driving cars at this time and notes that Uber will be adding its own sensors and self-driving hardware to the vehicles.
The Swedish automaker confirmed it had entered into an agreement to supply Uber with up to 24,000 of its flagship XC90 SUVs cars, complete with autonomous technology.
Either way, the new deal proves that Uber is serious about self-driving tech.
Volvo said in a statement that it would provide the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company with its XC90 premium SUVs complete with autonomous driving technologies, from 2019 until 2021. The agreement calls for the company to supply the ride-hailing firm with base model vehicles that come from the factory with "core" autonomous driving technology installed. Uber already has a deal in place to get some vehicles from Mercedes-Benz. "Today's agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction", he said. Uber's initiative to purchase 24,000 speeds up the process to replace human drivers. "Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for [autonomous driving] ride-sharing service providers globally".
"Everything we're doing right now is about building autonomous vehicles at scale", Jeff Miller, Uber's head of automotive alliances, said. Uber already uses Volvo's XC90 as the testbed for its self-driving system, which is now undergoing trials in Arizona and Pittsburgh.
The XC90 will take a testing period with safety driver and then the company will make a test of the vehicle running without safety driver so as to check whether the auto is able to give proper autonomous driving. Uber's $70 billion valuation already puts the group nearly on a par with Germany's Daimler.
"It only becomes a commercial business when you can remove that vehicle operator from the equation", Miller said.
Uber would not share financial information about the project, and Volvo did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
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