Volvo Cars will supply hundreds of XC90 SUVs fitted with driverless technology to Didi Chuxing’s test fleet of robo-taxis, with the hope of paving the way for eventual mass production.
The vehicles will be the first to incorporate Didi’s new self-driving hardware platform, DiDi Gemini, which will be deployed across Didi’s ride-hailing network, the Chinese company announced Monday. The Swedish-built vehicles are equipped with a variety of backup systems, including steering and braking, which allow them to be enabled for autonomous driving once the remaining components of the technology are complete.
“The vehicles we are now delivering will be capable of self-driving activity as soon as the software and sensor sets allow it,” Volvo Cars’ head of strategy Alexander Petrofski said in an interview.
Volvo, like the rest of the industry, has scaled down its plans for self-driving cars, and investors have become wary of the arrival of robo-taxi fleets in the aftermath of delays and accidents. However, the technology continues to draw supporters. Cruise LLC, a self-driving company backed by General Motors Co., raised $2.75 billion last week from investors including Walmart Inc., bringing its value to more than $30 billion.
Nicola Tesla With ‘No One’ Driving in Texas, Two People Are Killed
Volvo has delayed its intention to provide autonomous driving in select environments by at least a year, to 2022, as it develops new automotive underpinnings that will enable self-driving technology.
“All of the necessary features, applications, and algorithms are data-driven, and the data base can gradually increase in size over time,” Petrofski explained. “Unfortunately, we would not be able to turn a key and trigger it globally, but we envision a scenario in which we progressively activate this with additional use cases and regions.”
Didi, headquartered in Beijing and the largest investment in SoftBank Group Corp.’s portfolio, plans to raise up to $500 million for its self-driving unit as it prepares for a possible public listing this quarter. The business started testing self-driving cars in 2016 and plans to have more than 1 million self-driving taxis operating by 2030.