Uber and Volvo unveil new self-driving SUV

Volvo and Uber have unveiled a new XC90 SUV – the first production car ready to integrate Uber’s self-driving system.

The new vehicle, the XC90 is a base vehicle that will allow Uber to install its own self-driving system.

This will allow the group service to deploy a fleet of self-driving cars as an autonomous ride-sharing network some time in the future.

“The most important features of Volvo Cars’ autonomous drive-ready production vehicle include several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions as well as battery back-up power,” the manufacturer said.

“If any of the primary systems should fail for some reason, the back-up systems are designed to immediately act to bring the car to a stop.”

In addition to Volvo’s built-in back-up systems, an array of sensors atop and built into the vehicle are designed for Uber’s self-driving system to safely operate and manoeuvre in an urban environment, the group said.

The new development paints the way for a time when Uber drivers may not be required to taxi people around, Volvo said.

“When paired with Volvo’s vehicle platform, Uber’s self-driving system may one day allow for safe, reliable autonomous ride-sharing without the need for a Mission Specialist – the specially trained Uber employees operating and overseeing the car in areas designated and suitable for autonomous drive.”

The new car forms part of a 2016 commercial agreement between Volvo and Uber to supply tens of thousands of autonomous drive-ready base cars.

Volvo plans to use a similar autonomous base vehicle concept for the introduction of its future autonomous drive cars in the early 2020s.

“These technologies, to be introduced on the next generation of Volvo models based on the SPA2 vehicle architecture, will include features designed to enable unsupervised autonomous drive in clearly designated areas such as highways and ring roads,” it said.

According to Greg Maruszewski, managing director of Volvo Car South Africa, the advent of Volvo Cars’ autonomous drive-ready production vehicle bodes well for road safety in South Africa in the future.

“Whilst we don’t expect to see these vehicles on our roads in the short term, when they do arrive, they can only serve to have a positive effect on road safety for people traveling in and around the car,” he said.

Read: A look at Uber’s new passenger drone

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Uber and Volvo unveil new self-driving SUV