Uber's investment in AV technology is starting to show signs of paying off. With over 200 AV's on the roads of Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Phoenix and 1,500 employees, Uber hit its second 100 million miles in 100 days.
Uber is investing heavily in the AV race, and while it is still contesting the Waymo breach in court, Uber is hopeful to have its first real driverless car on the roads by 2021. Uber has a deal with Volvo in place, supplying them with SUV's. The fleet will reach approximately 24,000 vehicles according to the Wall Street Journal, while Uber stated that the exact number is not yet defined and that 24,000 is a general framework number, and the size of the fleet will be on a large scale.
Volvo is synonymous with safety and conservative driving, which sits well with Uber's latest campaign to change its image from the bad boy to a good clean family service.
With all this good news, it's important to remember that Uber only recently finished massive internal restructuring after having sexual harassment charges filed against some of the executives. Aloes, the fall out with Google and Alphabet over the Waymo industrial espionage fiasco has yet to conclude. The latest stage in the Waymo case is Jury selection this month. According to Waymo, Uber stole important information from them regarding their laser-based sensing system which according to Waymo, was taken unlawfully by Anthony Levandowski, the founder of Otto a driverless trucking technology system when he downloaded thousands of documents onto a portable USB drive.
The new Volvo deal is a feather under new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi's hat; Uber needed something major to help show investors and the public that Uber is now a company to trust, especially after the old executive was removed. The change included the removal of the founder Travis Kalanick from managing the company into the ground with his brash and irresponsible style.
At the moment, Uber has to survive reaching an IPO set in 2019. The company has an estimated market value of $70 billion, and any good news will contribute to strengthening the company's image. Volvo stated that the "framework agreement" is non-exclusive and Volvo intends to develop its own driverless cars. Volvo was bought out by Chinese car manufactures Geely Holdings back in 2010 and intends to roll out its own autonomous car in 2021. Uber and Daimler also signed an autonomous car partnership deal earlier this year but did not discuss vehicle purchasing numbers. Uber also has Ford partnership in motion in Pittsburgh and has been running a test with an autonomous car for over a year, although the cars are only on the streets for test purposes, so a driver and engineer are present in the front at all times.
No one really knows how far the technology has gone, and at what stage they really are. Although both Volvo and ford state that they will be road ready with their autonomous cars by 2021, Uber is keeping its cards close to its chest and not promising anything.