With delivery of thousands of cars scheduled to start in 2019, that gives us a firm date for when Uber plans to deploy self-driving cars as a widespread alternative to human-navigated vehicles. The exact terms of the deal weren't initially disclosed, but an Uber spokesperson confirmed to Mashable via email that the fleet size will be around 24,000 vehicles.
Volvo and Uber had earlier agreed in 2016 to jointly develop more advanced self-driving vehicle systems.
Uber already modified Volvo XC90 SUVs for its first attempt at self-driving cars in 2016.
'This new agreement puts us on a path toward mass-produced, self-driving vehicles at scale, ' Jeff Miller, Uber's head of auto alliances, told Bloomberg News. In Pittsburgh and Tempe, Arizona, Uber has been testing a self-driving Volvo prototype for a little over a year now, with safety drivers in the front seat ready to intervene if the program fails or stalls.
Uber would not share financial information about the project, and Volvo did not immediately respond to a request for further comment.
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The tests - which have involved human operators to intervene if anything happens - took a beating in March, when one of the Volvo's crashed and flipped on its side in Arizona (Uber was not at fault in the accident and was hit by another vehicle that failed to yield).
The purchase highlights the delicate line Uber has been forced to walk as it pursues driverless technology while also trying to keep its current workforce of more than 2 million drivers happy.
Competitor Waymo recently announced plans to begin its own autonomous ride-hailing service, which may be the reason for Uber accelerating its plans, Tech Crunch reported.
Many other brands of autonomous vehicles are planning o land their driverless cars on road.