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Volvo, Uber reveal autonomous production XC90

Self-driving trial between Volvo and Uber yields claimed production-ready vehicle

13 Jun 2019

VOLVO Cars and Uber have announced the next phase of their autonomous vehicle trial with the reveal of one their XC90 large SUV test vehicles, which the two companies claim is ready to go into production.


The vehicle previewed features safety technology that will allow Uber to easily install its own autonomous driving systems, with the aim to eventually offer an autonomous ride-sharing service.


Crucially, the production-spec vehicle is equipped with several back-up systems for steering and braking systems, so that if the primary systems fail for any reason, the back-up system is ready to take over straight away.


Much of the scanning and reading of the environment is done via a cluster of sensors sitting atop the vehicle, which have also featured on pilot vehicles in the past.


Despite revealing the vehicle it believes is ready to go into production, neither Volvo or Uber have given a timeframe as to when the fleet of XC90s will realistically begin to be seen on the road.


The statement released by Volvo did, however, say that as part of the partnership, the Swedish car-maker will deliver “tens of thousands of autonomous drive-ready base cars in coming years” for Uber.


Volvo Cars chief executive Hakan Samuelsson added that by the middle of next decade, around one-third of all new Volvos sold will be fully autonomous.


The technology developed out of the partnership will be used to introduce autonomous driving on Volvo vehicles in the early 2020s.


The partnership between the two companies first began in 2016, conducting a range of self-driving vehicle trials across the US in a number of locations with varying levels of success.


First beginning with a successful on-road trial in Pittsburgh in 2016, the second trial in San Francisco was suspended later that year by Californian authorities for running red lights around the city.


In the San Francisco trial, Uber claimed the failure was due to human error rather than the autonomous systems, saying that the drivers would be suspended.


The following year, the trial was suspended after one of the XC90s flipped onto its side in Tempe, Arizona, however it was later revealed that the self-driving vehicle was not at fault after a different driver failed to yield at an intersection.


Controversially, the program in Arizona was scrapped in May last year following a collision with 49-year-old pedestrian Elaine Herzberg, who was crossing the road at the time of the crash.


A total of $US300 million ($A389.2m) has been committed by the two companies to the project.

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