Uber and Volvo take on Ford in race to launch self-driving vehicles

Automated trucks and – gasp! – SUVs could be here in five years' time

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Volvo and Uber are taking on Ford to usher in the next decade with a fleet of self-driving vehicles.

The VC-funded ride-sharing service has bought Silicon Valley self-driving vehicle technology start up Ottomotto LLC. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Under the deal, Otto’s co-founder Anthony Levandowski will head Uber’s self-driving work in personal transportation, delivery and trucking at centres in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh reporting to Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

A partnership between Uber and Volvo was also announced, with Uber employing the Swedish car manufacturer's vehicles and safety technology.

The deal with Volvo is worth a reported $300m and will see Volvo develop a self-driving platform for its XC90 that both companies will separately employ.

The plan is for self-driving vehicles to launch by 2021.

The news came as Ford announced its tearing up its current plan on self-driving vehicles and embracing a big-bang approach.

The car company has pledged to mass-produce “fully autonomous vehicles in commercial operation for a ride-hailing or ride-sharing service beginning in 2021.”

In a blog post, here, Ford’s CEO and president Mark Fields said his firm is breaking with the car-maker pack.

“We abandoned a stepping-stone approach and created a dedicated 'top down' engineering program to deliver fully autonomous vehicles and the new mobility solutions and business opportunities that a fully autonomous vehicle could deliver,” he said. ®

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