New partnership emphasises Volvo's interest in producing an autonomous production car; Uber taxi firm to launch driverless cab service this year

Volvo has joined forces with Uber to co-develop new autonomous vehicle technology.

The companies have contributed a combined $300 million (nearly £228m) to the project.

Volvo to supply 24,000 self-driving XC90s to Uber

The partnership will have Uber make use of Volvo's autonomous systems in a fleet of driverless taxis which will hit the roads later this year.

Uber's 100-strong fleet will be made up of Volvo XC90s in Pittsburgh, USA, equipped with driverless tech but featuring a human in the driver's seat to monitor progress. Uber customers can call the cars in the same way they would a regular Uber taxi by using the smartphone app.

Volvo's role in the partnership will help it speed up development of its own production autonomous vehicle. The company has long emphasised its interest in working towards an autonomous future, but it believes retaining the option for human control is important in its production cars.

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Earlier this year Volvo CEO Håkan Samuelsson said his company has no plans “to have a car that could drive in urban environments from A to B”, and instead is only concerned in offering autonomous modes for situations “where it’s not really fun to drive”.

Volvo's future autonomous vehicles will therefore feature software focused on motorway driving instead of urban driving.

If all goes to plan, Volvo will bring an autonomous model to market in 2021.

Samuelsson said of today’s news: “Volvo is one of the most progressive and contemporary car makers in the world. It is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology and possesses an unrivalled safety credibility. We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber, one of the world’s leading technology companies.”

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said: “Over one million people die in car accidents every year. These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone. That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

Read more:

Ford, Google and Uber join forces to push autonomous agenda

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Our Verdict

Volvo XC90
The new Volvo XC90 costs from £45,750

It has big boots to fill and talented rivals to face. Is it up to the task?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week