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Volvo and Uber San Fran trial hits early speed bump

California dreaming: After a trial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Uber Volvo autonomous XC90 pilot program is heading west to San Francisco, California.

Autonomous Volvo XC90s run red lights in San Francisco trial: report

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Volvo logo15 Dec 2016

UPDATED: 15/12/2016 2:20pmUBER has reportedly been ordered to pull its self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs from public roads by Californian regulators after running red lights, the same day the company announced that its self-driving pilot program had expanded to San Francisco.

According to The Guardian, the Californian department of motor vehicles called for Uber to stop the launch in San Francisco, alleging that the car-sharing company failed to obtain a proper permit to operate the autonomous cars in the Bay Area.

Uber told the publication that human error rather than a fault in the autonomous tech was to blame for running the red lights and added that the drivers responsible had been suspended.

The expansion of the trial – a collaboration between Uber and Volvo Cars – to California followed a successful trial in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania earlier this year.

The Volvo XC90s SUVs used in the scheme were purchased by Uber, which has added its own self-driving hardware and software packages with a roof-mounted rig.

While the XC90s will drive around the streets of San Francisco autonomously, an Uber technician will be on board at all times.

“The promise of self-driving ride sharing is becoming a reality,” Volvo Cars vice-president of product planning Marten Levenstam said. “Volvo is proud to be at the forefront of the latest developments in the automotive world alongside our partners at Uber.”

Volvo Cars and Uber signed an agreement back in August this year to set up a jointly-owned project to produce a vehicle that will be used to develop fully autonomous cars.

As previously reported, the new vehicle will be based on the modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) that underpins the XC90 and S90/V90 twins and will also provide the basis of the forthcoming new-generation mid-size S60/V60 and XC60 SUV.

Volvo says the Uber connection is element in a three-part plan to develop autonomous driving technologies.

The first part is the Drive Me autonomous driving test project, that kicks off in January next year, and will see up to 100 vehicles given to the public to test on the streets of the Swedish city of Gothenburg.

The second part is a joint venture with safety tech company Autoliv to set up a jointly owned company to develop and manufacture autonomous tech and driver assistance software for sale to third-party car-makers.

This new company will be based in Gothenburg and have a workforce of 200, which will increase to 600 in the mid-term, and it is expected to start operating in early 2017.

Rounding out the strategy, the third part is an agreement with Uber to develop the autonomous driving cars.

Uber and Volvo Cars have committed a total of $US300 million ($A405m) to the project.

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