Uber and Volvo Cars will soon deploy an updated fleet of self-driving SUVs in limited testing, an Uber executive said Tuesday.
Volvo will manufacture the XC90s with steering and braking systems, much like those in its human-driven models, but they will be designed for computer control, with backup steering and braking. If the primary controls fail the backup technology will stop the vehicle.
A range of sensors will allow Uber’s system to safely maneuver in defined urban situations.
This marks the third derivative of an autonomous Volvo vehicle to be deployed by Uber since the two companies formed a partnership in 2016.
The state of Arizona suspended Uber’s self-driving test program in March 2018 after an autonomous Volvo XC90 killed a woman crossing a Tempe, Arizona, street late at night. That was the first reported fatality involving a self-driving vehicle in the U.S.
Prosecutors in Arizona found in March 2019 that Uber was not criminally liable in the death. Uber resumed limited testing of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh last December, and plans to resume testing in Toronto and San Francisco, according to Eric Meyhofer, who leads the ride-hailing service’s advance technology group.
While the Arizona fatality has slowed deployment of self-driving cars generally, Uber and competitors such as Lyft, see it as essential to their long-term business model because it can substantially reduce their biggest cost, paying human drivers.
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