Car maker Volvo has agreed to sell tens of thousands of autonomous driving compatible base vehicles to Uber between 2019 and 2021.
The two companies signed a non-exclusive framework agreement, building on existing partnership announced in August 2016.
The non-binding framework deal also marks a new chapter in the convergence of car makers and Silicon Valley-based technology companies.
“The automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and Volvo Cars chooses to be an active part of that disruption,” said Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive.
“Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today’s agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction.”
Volvo Cars’ fully modular, in-house developed Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) will be used as the base of the vehicles. According to the car maker, SPA is one of the most advanced car architectures in the world and is currently used on Volvo Cars’ top-of-the-line 90 series cars as well as on the new XC60 midsize SUV.
Volvo Cars’ engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber. The base vehicles incorporate all necessary safety, redundancy and core autonomous driving technologies that are required for Uber to add its own self-driving technology, the companies said.
“We’re thrilled to expand our partnership with Volvo,” said Jeff Miller, Head of Auto Alliances, Uber. “This new agreement puts us on a path towards mass produced self-driving vehicles at scale.”
At the same time as providing Uber with AD compatible cars, Volvo will use the same base vehicle in the development of its own independent autonomous car strategy, which is planned to culminate in the release of its first fully autonomous car in 2021.
Earlier this year Volvo told the Australian government it is prepared to accept the full liability for damages or injuries caused whenever one of its cars is in full autonomous driving mode.
In a submission to a federal parliamentary inquiry into driverless vehicles, Kevin McCann managing director of Volvo Car Australia said uncertainty over where liability belongs for vehicles involved in accidents is regarded as one of the biggest barriers to adoption of driverless cars.