Uber Technologies Inc. said Thursday it has acquired Otto, a self-driving trucks startup. Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will lead Uber’s combined self-driving efforts across personal transportation, delivery and trucking in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh, the company said.
“Together, we now have one of the strongest autonomous engineering groups in the world; self-driving trucks and cars that are already on the road thanks to Otto and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh; the practical experience that comes from running ridesharing and delivery services in hundreds of cities; with the data and intelligence that comes from doing 1.2 billion miles on the road every month,” said Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-Founder, Uber in a prepared statement.
The company also announced that Volvo Car Group has agreed to a $300 million alliance to develop self-driving cars.
The base vehicles will be manufactured by Volvo Cars and then purchased from Volvo by Uber. Both Uber and Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of their own autonomous car strategies, according to Uber.
This will involve Uber adding its own self-developed autonomous driving systems to the Volvo base vehicle. Volvo will use the same base vehicle for the next stage of its own autonomous car strategy, which will involve fully autonomous driving.
The new base vehicle will be developed on Volvo Cars’ fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), said Uber, calling SPA “one of the most advanced car architectures in the world.” It is currently used on Volvo Cars’ XC90 SUV, as well as the S90 premium sedan and V90 premium estate.
The development work will be conducted by Volvo Cars engineers and Uber engineers in close collaboration. This project will further add to the scalability of the SPA platform to include all needed safety, redundancy and new features required to have autonomous vehicles on the road.
“Over one million people die on the world’s roads every year and 90 percent of these accidents are due to human error. In the US, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for people under 25. This is a tragedy that self-driving technology can help solve,” said Kalanick.