Are you ready to let Silicon Valley take the wheel?
After spending 15 months deploying and testing autonomous vehicles around the country, Volvo and Uber are scaling up their self-driving partnership to newfound heights. Just last month, the two companies signed an agreement where Uber is reportedly looking to purchase 24,000 XC90 SUVs from the safety-first focused automaker.
It's all part of a bigger push to bring about the largest driverless fleet on the road, and we're told we can expect to see the vehicles roaming around select cities between 2019 and 2021. The word on the street is that Volvo will be supplying base model plug-in hybrid XC90s, and Uber will be adding all of the witchcraft (i.e., software, sensors, and the odd-looking bits that distinguish self-driving units from their human-operated counterparts).
“This deal puts us on the path toward mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale,” said Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of automotive alliances. “And it’ll allow us to roll out autonomous vehicles at scale and provides us sufficient flexibility to begin scaling production when our tech is ready.”
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Although, as promising as it may be to those looking to take up more time digesting social media, working, or zoning out, the vision isn't without its challenges. Analysts at Navigant Research actually rated Uber's autonomous technologies as far inferior to other leading automakers like GM, Ford, and VW. Volvo, however, ranks closer to the top rivaling Tesla.
Not to mention that Uber is still trudging through a swamp of legal and PR issues, yet the company remains optimistic, and Volvo stands to gain from the partnership.
“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology, and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Håkan Samuelsson, the chief executive officer of Volvo. “Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for autonomous-driving ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
What are your thoughts, people? Are you ready for self-driving cars? Why or why not? Vote and let us know in the comments below!