Volvo Cars and Uber have announced a joint effort to develop self-driving vehicles that could see the first examples tested on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, within months. Pending any unforeseen technical or regulatory glitches, the $300 million joint venture will allow San Francisco-based Uber to introduce the first of these vehicles -- which initially will be spun from a Volvo XC90 SUV fitted with Uber’s own array of specialized hardware and software – well before the end of the year. The move follows news of similar types of recent linkups aimed at fostering an autonomous future between General Motors and Lyft and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Google.

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According to Volvo, this XC90 or some other variation of its sophisticated Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform also will serve in a similar capacity for an autonomous vehicle planned by the Chinese-owned Swedish-based luxury car maker -- although the timeline for its launch is still uncertain. The press release indicates that all development work will be a collaborative effort between Volvo Cars and Uber engineers with a focus on adding even more capability to the SPA platform in the form of enhanced safety and backup technology required for complete autonomous operation. While Uber ultimately intends to pursue true autonomous capability that fully eliminates the need for any human intervention, Volvo’s plans are geared towards crafting a package that delivers “high automation” still under human control.

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