Uber recently announced it will be buying as estimated 24,000 premium SUVs from Volvo between 2019 and 2021. In a plan set to dramatically disrupt the world's automotive market, Uber will fit the SUVs with its own autonomous driving technology and then set them out onto the road.
Uber engineers have been working with a team at Volvo to design a base model SUV that will be appropriate to refit with Uber's own self-driving technology. These initial vehicles will be modeled on Volvo's XC90 premium SUVs.
Volvo is cleverly positioning itself for the oncoming disruption in the automotive market with president and chief executive Håkan Samuelsson saying, "Our aim is to be the supplier of choice for AD ride-sharing service providers globally. Today's agreement with Uber is a primary example of that strategic direction."
The deal is estimated to be costing Uber one billion dollars, and while the company has not set a specific date for when it could roll out these self-driving cars, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility to imagine we could see them on the streets by 2022.
This will be a major disruption once it is deployed. The day Uber, or anyone else, presses play on a large-scale fleet of on-demand, self-driving taxis is the day the world permanently changes. The entire ownership model of cars will shift as scores of autonomous electric vehicles roam the streets ready to transport passengers, potentially at just a fraction of the cost of a taxi or Uber ride today.