Geely owned, Volvo Car Corp. and ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. have signed a $300 million agreement to co-develop autonomous sport-utility vehicles that will either be used as self-driving taxis or sold to consumers.
The two companies will announce the joint project Thursday, saying the Swedish auto maker will conduct much of the initial engineering on a platform for an XC90 SUV that is capable of piloting itself. At some point, Uber will take that technology and use it as the foundation to develop its own self-driving vehicle technology. Volvo will do the same.
Under the agreement, Uber will buy XC90 SUVs manufactured by Volvo. Volvo is owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. and has been among the more aggressive players in the established auto industry when it comes to developing and advocating for autonomous vehicles.
Uber, known for its ride-hailing service, has been developing autonomous vehicles and envisions a day when those cars could replace its tens of thousands of contract drivers. It recruited a team of researchers and scientists from Carnegie Mellon University, hired the hackers who wirelessly took control of a Jeep in 2015, and earlier this year hired Ford’s Sherif Marakby to head its global vehicle programs.
Uber and Volvo will work together on dynamic mapping, object identification and other hurdles that face many companies working on driverless cars.