June 12, 2019
Volvo Cars and Uber present first autonomous drive-ready production car
Our future is electric: by the middle of next decade we aim for half of our sales to be fully electric cars. But our future is also very much an autonomous one: by that same time, we also aim for one-third of all sales to be autonomous cars. Some of those will be cars we sell to regular customers, who want the ability to lean back in clearly marked autonomous zones, such as freeways. Others may be sold to fleet companies or ride-hailing firms, who are looking at new forms of mobility, such as on-demand ‘robotaxis’ that take you from A to B whenever you want it.
It is that last customer group that makes today’s announcement so important (but private Volvo customers will also benefit from it in future). Together with Uber, the leading ride-hailing company from the US, we today present the first Volvo production car capable of driving all by itself. That is a pretty significant milestone in the collaboration between our two companies.
Watch the video to learn more about the technology and safety features of the autonomous drive-ready XC90.
Since we started working with Uber in late 2016, we developed a number of prototypes aimed at boosting our autonomous car development. Today’s car, an XC90 SUV, is the first car developed with Uber that came off our regular factory floor. In that sense, it is also a sign of things to come when we start to introduce our own autonomous drive features. Those are planned for the next generation of Volvos based on the SPA2 architecture, enabling unsupervised autonomous drive in clearly designated areas.
The most important features on our autonomous drive-ready XC90 are the back-up systems. Think of steering and braking, but also back-up battery power. If any of the primary systems would fail for some reason, the back-up systems are designed to immediately act and bring the car to a stop. Of course, the car also contains (or the ability to integrate) numerous sensors and cameras for 360 degrees perception capability. It even has special cleaning nozzles for the cameras to ensure good visibility at all times.
« Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies »
Soon we will start to deliver the first autonomous drive-ready XC90s to Uber. They will then install their own self-driving system which consists of both hardware and software. Combining those with our built-in back-up systems may allow Uber to offer autonomous ridesharing services at some point in the future. That fits perfectly with our ambition in this area, says our CEO Håkan Samuelsson: “Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies.”
Of course, we also see autonomous drive as a way to further boost safety, an ambition that Uber shares with us. The fact that safety is so central to everything we do is a main reason why they want to work with us. “Working in close agreement with companies like Volvo is a key ingredient to effectively building a safe, scalable, self-driving fleet,” says Eric Meyhofer, who is in charge of the Uber department that develops its autonomous driving technology.