Like its literal meaning, Uber is going over and beyond its conventional ride-sharing service. Firstly, it is working with Swedish carmaker, Volvo Cars, to develop next-generation autonomous driving cars. Both companies are chipping in US$ 300 million each to this effort which will see Volvo manufacture the base vehicle and Uber add its own autonomous driving system to the vehicle. The Volvo vehicles will be purchased by Uber for use in its fleet; Volvo will also use the same base vehicle in its autonomous car strategy.
The new base vehicle will be based on Volvo Cars’ modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform which is one of the most advanced car architectures in the world. It is currently used on Volvo Cars’ top-of-the-line, multiple-award-winning XC90 SUV, as well as the S90 premium sedan and V90 premium estate.
SPA was developed as part of Volvo Cars’ US$ 11 billion global industrial transformation program, which started in 2010, and has been prepared from the outset for autonomous drive technologies as well as hybridization and electrification.
The development work will be conducted by both Volvo Cars and Uber engineersand will further add to the scalability of the SPA platform to include all needed safety, redundancy and new features required to have autonomous vehicles on the road.
Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said: “Over one million people die in car accidents every year. 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.”
In addition to its collaboration with Volvo, Uber has also acquired Otto, a technology start-up that is changing the delivery and trucking business. Otto is like the haulage version of Uber, matching truck drivers with the right loads. It is also creating self-driving trucks to help increase driver and road safety i.e. truck drivers can rest while their trucks are moving; this cuts delivery time while still maintaining safety.
Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder and creator of Ghostrider, the autonomous motorcycle, will join Uber’s management team and lead all Uber / Otto’s self-driving efforts across passenger transportation, delivery and trucking in Pittsburgh, Palo Alto and San Francisco.