WASHINGTON: Uber Technologies Inc on Wednesday will unveil its newest Volvo self-driving car in Washington as it works to eventually deploy vehicles without drivers under some limited conditions.
Uber said the new production XC90 will be assembled by Volvo Cars in Sweden and have human controls like steering wheels and brake pedals, but added it has factory-installed steering and braking systems designed for computer rather than human control.
Other companies are also working to deploy self-driving vehicles in limited areas as the race to push out autonomous cars across the globe heats up.
Ford Motor Co’s majority owned autonomous vehicle unit, Argo AI, launched its new fleet of self-driving test vehicles – Ford Fusion Hybrid – in Detroit on Wednesday, expanding to five US cities.
The No. 2 US automaker also opened a research center in Tel Aviv, joining a growing number of major automakers and suppliers setting up shop in the Israeli tech hub.
General Motors Co in January 2018 sought permission from US regulators to deploy a ride-sharing fleet of driverless cars without steering wheels or other human controls before the end of 2019, but is still struggling to win regulatory approval.
Alphabet Inc’s Waymo unit is operating a robotaxi service in Arizona and said last month it is partnering with Lyft Inc to serve more riders.
Carmakers have struggled to maintain profit margins faced with the rising costs of making electric, connected and autonomous cars.
They are setting up alliances and outside investors to combat spiraling development costs.
Previously, Uber had purchased about 250 Volvo XC90 SUVs and retrofitted them for self-driving use.
The new vehicles – known by the internal code number 519G and under development for several years – are safer, more reliable and will “soon” replace the older vehicles in Uber’s fleet, said Eric Meyhofer, the head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.