Uber Technologies recently unveiled a new Volvo self-driving car model in Washington. Uber’s plan is to eventually deploy these driverless vehicles. The new XC90 is going to be assembled in Volvo Cars, Sweden, and will come with human controls such as the steering wheel and brake pedals, but is foremost designed to be driven by computer controls, not human drivers. Before this, Uber had already bought around 250 Volvo XC90 SUVs, which were then redesigned for self-driving.
Eric Meyhofer, the head of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, expects the new models, codenamed 519G, to be safer, more reliable, and to soon replace the older models. “This is about going to production. We’re still in a real hybrid state. We have to get there and we’re not going to get to thousands of cars in a city overnight. It’s going to be a slower introduction,” he said.
The new models will have several important improvements, including: back-up systems for braking and steering, battery back-up power, and a fish-eye camera that will scan for items that passengers have lost.
When Meyhofer was asked if Uber is planning on deploying these cars in the next couple of years, his response was: “Yes – way before that.” Though he also added that Uber wants to “Be in the good graces of public trust and regulatory trust.” before this deployment occurs.
Hakan Samuelsson, Volvo Cars Chief Executive, said in a statement: “By the middle of the next decade, we expect one-third of all cars we sell to be fully autonomous.”
March of last year, a woman was killed in Phoenix, Arizona, by an Uber self-driving car, but charges against the company were dropped when Arizona prosecutors said the Uber was not criminally liable in this instance.