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Volvo, Uber to Develop Autonomous Vehicles

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Aug. 18, 2016—Volvo announced Thursday that it has joined forces with Uber to develop autonomous cars.

Together, Volvo and Uber are contributing $300 million to a joint project to develop new base vehicles that will be able to incorporate the latest developments in autonomous technology, including fully autonomous SAE level-4 autonomy. Both companies view the project as the beginning of a long term partnership.

“Volvo is one of the most progressive and contemporary car makers in the world,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars. “It is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology and possesses an unrivaled safety credibility. We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber, one of the world’s leading technology companies. This alliance places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”

Uber and Volvo will use the same base vehicle on Volvo’s SPA platform. Uber will add its autonomous technologies to a Volvo car and Volvo will use that car for the next stage of its autonomous car strategy. Volvo and Uber engineers will closely collaborate on the project. 

“Over one million people die in car accidents every year,” Travis Kalanick, Uber chief executive, said. “These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone. That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important. Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

Autonomous Volvo XC90s with human drivers from Uber could be on the road operating in the ride-hailing service network by the end of the year, according to a report from Automotive News.

Uber also announced that it has acquired Otto, an autonomous technology startup focusing on autonomous trucks. Together the two companies have a strong team of autonomous vehicle engineers with autonomous vehicles already on the road through the companies' Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. 

In addition, Uber riders in Pittsburgh will be able to hail an autonomous vehicle for a ride starting within a few weeks, according to a report from the Associated Press. There will be an unspecified number of Ford Fusion vehicles with human back up drivers taking part in Uber's network in the city, operating like any other Uber ride.

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