The deal between Volvo and Uber is estimated in 300 million dollars. The money will be invested in the collaborative development of driverless technologies. The technical side of the deal is as follows: Uber buys from Volvo 100 its XC90 SUV vehicles and will reconfigure them to install the hardware and software inside of each car that would make it at least semiautonomous. After that, the fleet of cars will be available to tests on real roads in Pittsburgh city.
The above-mentioned project will be useful for Uber to receive the newest fleet of semiautonomous vehicles that will roam streets and gather the road data to be used to educate the future generations of cars by Uber to be fully autonomous. It is planned to 2021 (like many other companies plan to also). The thing is not only to create the fleet of ride-hailing services with partial automation but also to make the automated delivery of cargoes by the trucks and small parcels by autonomous passenger cars in the future.
As it is planned, the next generation of semiautonomous trucks by Uber will largely assist truck drivers, greatly enhancing their safety. While the generation of vehicles after that will no longer need a man driver at all. Though people may still serve as assistants if vehicle breaks during the way, for instance, to make repairing or to call for a help, if this area won’t be automated as well.
Uber, for now, is the really first company to launch commercially profitable on-demand ride-hailing services using partial autonomy. No other company in the world does the same and no other company definitely widely uses the fully autonomous vehicles as of today for these purposes.
Alongside with Uber, Volvo will also have the profit from the use of data collected by the cars in use by Uber and, combining with the data they have from the own driverless project, they can potentially create the cars that won’t require manned driving.
The agreement two companies signed is not exclusive. They may woo other companies to it to speeding up the process of the developments, to beat eventually their main rivals: Google that is developing this tech for above 10 years up to this moment, and Tesla. The both just mentioned companies are completely able to elaborate the required technology consisting of software and hardware but they won’t probably manage to implement it in the real life with vast commercial success without reliable and big partners like Lyft or Uber.