The $US300 million ($390 million) partnership between the automotive and Silicon Valley giants is already producing results – Uber’s driverless Pittsburgh contingent will be stocked with custom Volvo XC90 SUVs.
For now, it’s just a handful of cars.
“The partnership is critical to our strategy in autonomous vehicles because Uber does not have experience in the manufacture of cars which is extremely complex as I found during my first visit in a auto factory there are several years”.
At first, the vehicles will be supervised by a driver, who can take control if necessary, and an observer, Bloomberg reported.
Why is it just in Pittsburgh?
Uber passengers in Pittsburgh will be able to summon rides in self-driving cars with the touch of a smartphone button in the next several weeks. Together, Otto and Uber can build the backbone of the rapidly approaching self-driving freight system.
Wait. Uber has developed its own self-driving tech?
In preparation for the project, Kalanick traveled in late 2014 to Pittsburg, home of Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department, to search for experts in self-driving vehicles, according to Bloomberg News. There are 1.25 million global road fatalities a year, and crashes are overwhelmingly caused by human error.
Uber, known for its ride-hailing and ride sharing services, has been working towards autonomous vehicles in the hopes of eventually replacing its thousands of contract workers.
So far Otto has tested self-driving trucks for highway use only. Gett said it would provide Volkswagen with the technology to expand beyond auto ownership and into ride- and car-sharing.
In another deal, the company announced a $300 million alliance with Volvo to supply vehicles and technology.
It’s heartbreaking to know that Volvo may be following in the same footsteps as Tesla in their self-driving auto accidents in the Tesla Model S vehicles. By the end of the year, Uber plans to have 100 of these specially modified Volvos on the road as part of its transportation service, and Uber is looking to partner with other automakers as well.
Yes. In May, Lyft said that it is planning a very similar pilot program in an unspecified US city “within a year”. GM also bought itself some self-driving expertise in March with the acquisition of a company called Cruise Automation.
So what does this mean? That’s a big deal.