Uber strikes deal to buy 24000 autonomous Volvos

Randall Padilla
November 22, 2017

Volvo has signed an agreement with ride sharing company Uber to supply autonomous drive compatible vehicles.

Should Uber buy all 24,000 cars, it would be Volvo's largest order by far and the biggest sale in the autonomous vehicle industry, giving Uber, which is losing more than $600 million a quarter, its first commercial fleet of cars. This deal could potentially revamp the existing business model in future for a new autonomous taxi riding service.

According to a patent, which describes a "sensory stimulation system for autonomous vehicles", Uber plans to use vibrating and moving seats, the flow of air targeting the face or other part of the body, and light bars and screens to prevent passengers from feeling travel sick.

Combining Volvo's cars with Uber's self-driving system builds on their almost three-year relationship and comes as Uber's autonomous driving unit has been hit by a lawsuit over trade secrets and the departure of top talent.

Given that one of the proposed benefits of autonomous vehicles is the ability to claim back commuting time, allowing drivers to do other things while the auto drives them to work, travel sickness could be a barrier to adoption, both for Uber-like services and privately sold self-driving cars. The firm has also announced plans to carry out one of the largest and most extensive autonomous driving trials in the United Kingdom, through a separate project known as Drive Me London.

The carmaker, owned by China's Geely Holding since 2010, didn't disclose the agreement's value or the precise number of vehicles. Uber has returned into the self-driving cars game after it was sued by its rival Waymo for trade secret theft.

World's most valuable start-up Uber has made a decision to purchase 24,000 autonomous cars from Volvo. Many younger consumers are ready to embrace autonomous vehicle features, but older consumers may need the reassurance that the Volvo brand provides to try out self-driving vehicles.

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