Following two years of collaboration, Volvo
and Uber are ready to show off their jointly developed production car capable of driving by itself.
This follows several prototypes which were built with the goal of sussing out the companies' self-driving car development efforts.
The Volvo XC90
presented today is the first production car that, in combination with Uber's self-driving system, is allegedly capable of fully driving itself.
Your author would like to take a moment to welcome his new robot overlords.
An array of sensors peppered atop and built into the vehicle are designed for Uber's self-driving system to safely operate the machine and maneuver it in an urban environment. Several back-up systems are built into the thing for both steering and braking functions plus a dose of battery back-up power.
Before you rush out and throw away your driving shoes, know that even though the companies say this machine is capable of handling driving duties all on its own, they aren't ready to let it drive to the market on its own just yet.
After describing the car, they go on to say that when paired with Volvo's vehicle platform, Uber's self-driving system may one day allow
[emphasis mine] for safe, reliable autonomous ridesharing without the need for a Mission Specialist.
A Mission Specialist, if you're wondering, is the human bag of meat hired by Uber to sit behind the wheel and take command should things go awry. The team says they are specially trained Uber employees 'operating and overseeing the car' in areas designated and suitable for autonomous driving.
Volvo gets approval for a no-hands test of its self-driving cars
Elon Musk says Tesla has the potential to be fully self-driving by next year
Volvo Cars plans to use a similar autonomous base vehicle concept for the introduction of its future autonomous drive cars in the early 2020s. These technologies will apparently include features designed to enable unsupervised autonomous drive in clearly designated areas such as highways and ring roads.
Let's hope these robot overlords are more like the sentient characters in the movie Cars
and less like the psychotic transport trucks in Stephen King's Maximum Overdrive