Volvo Cars and Uber have announced a framework agreement under which the ride-hailing company will receive a fleet of self-driving-compatible vehicles from the Sweden-based car company, starting in 2019.
In August last year, the two companies announced a joint project to develop new base vehicles that would be able to incorporate autonomous driving (AD) technologies. At the time, they said they would contribute a combined $300m to the project.
Volvo Cars’ engineers have since worked with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied.
The base vehicles incorporate all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology, according to Volvo.
“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Volvo,” said Jeff Miller, head of auto alliances at Uber. “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass-produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”
At the same time as providing Uber with AD-compatible cars, Volvo will use the same base vehicle in the development of its own independent autonomous car strategy, which will culminate in the release of its first fully autonomous car in 2021, according to the carmaker.
“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Håkan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars’ president and chief executive. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
The agreement is understood to incorporate the provision of 24,000 vehicles between 2019 and 2021, which according to a Reuters report would be Volvo’s largest-ever single order.
In January this year, German carmaker Daimler and Uber announced their own agreement to cooperate on the supply and operation of self-driving vehicles. Under the terms of that agreement, Daimler will introduce self-driving vehicles on Uber’s global ride-sharing network in the years ahead.
Meanwhile, in September, Ford signed a similar deal to develop self-driving cars with Uber rival, Lyft.