Ride-sharing company Uber has unveiled its third generation self-driving technology, and simultaneously addressed that infamous road rage trigger, the Volvo driver.
To be fair, Volvo is well-known for its commitment to safety, and the self-driving XC90 SUV it has developed in collaboration with Uber is its first production vehicle to roll off the factory floor with autonomous technology ready to go.
“We believe autonomous-drive technology will allow us to further improve safety, the foundation of our company,” said Volvo boss Håkan Samuelsson in a statement to the press.
“By the middle of the next decade, we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous. Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies.”
“Working in close cooperation with companies like Volvo is a key ingredient to effectively building a safe, scalable, self-driving fleet,” said Eric Meyhofer, CEO of Uber Advanced Technologies Group in a statement.
“Volvo has long been known for its commitment to safety, which is the cornerstone of its newest production-ready self-driving base vehicle. When paired with our self-driving technology, this vehicle will be a key ingredient in Uber’s autonomous product suite.”
Uber became the subject of considerable scrutiny in December 2018 when one of its previous generation vehicles struck and killed Elaine Herzberg during a test drive.
Volvo have taken pains to impress that numerous features have been added to ensure public safety when the time comes to begin testing the 3rd gen self-driving XC90 in 2020, in a statement on its website:
The most important features of Volvo Cars’ autonomous drive-ready production vehicle include several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions as well as battery back-up power. If any of the primary systems should fail for some reason, the back-up systems are designed to immediately act to bring the car to a stop.
In addition to Volvo’s built-in back-up systems, an array of sensors atop and built into the vehicle are designed for Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and maneuver in an urban environment.
While the company is not clear on whether the model being used is the XC90 plug-in hybrid, self-driving technology is most commonly applied to electric cars.
Volvo refers to the self-driving XC90 as the “base model”, so perhaps it is not PHEV in this case – but the company has committed to 50 per cent of its vehicles being fully electric by 2025.
Volvo’s agreement with Uber, which was first inked in 2016, will see tens of thousands of self-driving cars on the roads coming years – assuming, of course, that this next round of testing being successful.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She has been writing about electric vehicles since 2018, and has a keen interest in the role that zero-emissions transport has to play in sustainability. She has participated in podcasts such as Download This Show with Marc Fennell and Shirtloads of Science with Karl Kruszelnicki and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum. Bridie also owns a Tesla Model 3 and has it available for hire on evee.com.au.