A joint venture between taxi App firm Uber and Volvo will see autonomous Volvo XC90s on the streets of Pittsburgh before the end of August 2016.
The ride-sharing firm Uber – the bane of traditional taxi drivers – is so successful it’s awash with money, and a big chunk of its money has gone on developing software for autonomous cars.
And that software is about to get its first outing in anger in Pittsburgh as Uber launches the first autonomous taxi service with a fleet of Volvo XC90s before the end of the month (August 2016).
Volvo is calling the deal a joint venture, but it will be Uber’s hardware and software fitted to the 100 XC90 T8 plug-in hybrids that will be on the streets of Pittsburgh picking up fares and delivering Uber users a fully autonomous taxi service. But with one big caveat.
The caveat is that although Uber may feel their hardware and software is up to scratch, law makers won’t allow autonomous cars – or autonomous taxis – to go out and play on their own, so all the ‘autonomous’ XC90s will have to have a human co-pilot behind the wheel.
Apart from supplying the XC90s, the $300 million project will see Volvo and Uber developing new base vehicles for autonomous drive, with Uber and Volvo fitting their own hardware and software and Uber buying the cars from Volvo.
Interestingly, it seems rides in the Uber XC90s in Pittsburgh will be free – rather than the going rates of around £1 a mile – as Uber rolls the service out, with the claim that once they can offer the cars without a human co-pilot it will be cheaper to use an Uber autonomous XC90 than your own car.