Uber is planning to test the world’s first autonomous taxi fleet in the next few weeks, putting it ahead of Google and Ford in the race to bring self-driving car services to consumers.
For this Uber and Volvo have come together and are planning to invest $300m to develop a self-driving vehicle.
Uber customers in Pittsburgh are expected to be able to enjoy the first self-driving test vehicles, which will be Volvo XC90s, from their smartphones. In these self-driven cars, drivers are supposed to remain behind the wheel during the pilot, which will be free for passengers.
Uber is investing heavily in driverless technologies. Travis Kalanick, CEO of Uber believes that it will be a cornerstone of future city transportation networks.
He explained in a statement, “Uber’s mission — to provide transportation as reliable as running water, everywhere for everyone — is not possible without moving into this kind of technology.”
Ubers partnership with Volvo underscores how the advent of self-driving cars is rapidly changing the auto industry, forcing tech start-ups and traditional carmakers to decide whether to work together or compete.
Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo chief executive stated in a statement, “We see this as the first step in a long-term industrial partnership.” Further, he said that smart maps might be another area of co-operation between the two companies.
This driverless car in Pittsburgh will be free for passengers, and Uber expects that driverless technology will drive down the cost of rides over time.
Uber’s started working over driverless cars last year, when it poached dozens of researchers from the robotics department of Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, and set up its own research center there.