Uber has launched a pilot of their self-driving car service in San Francisco with the Swedish automaker Volvo. The base vehicles (Volvo XC90 luxury SUVs) are sold by Volvo to Uber. The XC90s are modified to provide autonomous driving capabilities. Both companies have contributed a combined $300 million USD to the project.
The car service has already been launched in Pittsburgh, and has been in operation since September. Andrew J. Hawkins from The Verge commented that it was both mundane and thrilling, equating the driving experience to that of one with an ‘overly cautious grandmother’. That’s one of the good things about self-driving cars, because they aren’t impatient and reckless like many human drivers. Thank goodness!
Volvo is one of the largest automakers, but could benefit from the increase in sales that this autonomous driving project may provide. Uber is one of the largest transportation networks in the U.S., and therefore may need to purchase quite a few of these Volvo XC90 SUVs.
Self-driving cars may appear to be a luxury for some, but for many others, they are a lifesaver. There are many people who can’t drive themselves due to disabilities and illnesses. While others have reached an age at which they are no longer comfortable driving themselves, or they lost their drivers’ licenses for various reasons.
Update: Uber has been prohibited from operating their autonomous car service in California, so they are testing it in Arizona instead.