Just as the hype from the Uber/ NASA partnership announcement to develop airborne taxies had begun to subside, Uber signed another deal with auto manufacturer, Volvo, to develop 20,000 “Robotaxies” for ground ride-hailing services. The new partnership comes as no surprise, as Uber seems to to be dominating the future autonomous taxi market before other entities can even begin to compete.
Repurposing Existing Technology
According an article covering an interview with Volvo’s CEO, the new deal will entail converting Volvo’s current SUV model XC90 to function automatically at level 4/ level 5, with the ability for the vehicles to be fully autonomous, but have the option for a driver to activate if needed. Uber and Volvo engineers have already been in cahoots for developing the necessary computing power and sensors for autonomous driving. Going forward, the technology will be implemented into Volvo’s current production line in Sweden, and eventually transferred to Volvo’s new plant in Charleston, South Carolina.
Volvo attributes Uber’s decision to sign to Volvo’s commitment to safety and speed. Not to mention, Volvo plans on implementing the new technologies into their current model already in production, saving on time and costs of developing an entirely new model from conception to production. Volvo sees this deal with Uber as a catalyst to becoming a manufacturing leader in the future ride-hailing market. Once perfected, Volvo hopes to implement the new technologies into other models, per client specifications, as their scalable product architecture modular chassis technology gives Volvo a competitive edge over potential rivals hoping to enter the market.
The race to autonomous vehicles has far surpassed personal vehicles as investments with ride-hailing services seems to be the new focus. The safety features and cost savings that autonomous taxi services are expected to offer leaves us wondering if personal vehicles will still be a commodity in the future.
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