Uber has just taken another big step from a ride-sharing service to a transportation provider. Under the new "framework agreement", Volvo will supply thousands of vehicles already fitted with "core" autonomous and safety systems, to which Uber will adds its own self-driving tech.
"Our goal was from day one to make investments into a vehicle that could be manufactured at scale", Jeff Miller, Uber's head of automotive alliances, said.
Uber and Volvo have not disclosed financial terms, but have confirmed that the deal is "non-exclusive" - meaning both are free to form similar partnerships with others. Uber's move will definitely boost sales at Volvo's end and also aid in keeping the costs low at the Chinese-controlled group's own plans for 2021 considering fully autonomous cars.More news: Arizona Cardinals to start Blaine Gabbert at QB
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Volvo Cars' engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber.
Uber is now trying to outpace autonomous auto rivals such as Tesla, Lyfy and the Alphabet subsidiary Waymo, which are each developing their own technologies.
The purchase highlights the delicate line Uber has been forced to walk as it pursues driverless technology while also trying to keep its current workforce of more than 2 million drivers happy. Uber will add its own sensors and software to permit pilot-less driving.
Uber said it is testing self-driving XC90 models in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Arizona, and intends to purchase and use specially-modified Mercedes-Benz vehicles as well. Uber's US$70 billion valuation already puts the group nearly on a par with Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler.