Self-driving trucks aren't just for hauling beer anymore. Now they can also haul garbage. Not to be outdone by the likes of Uber and Waymo, Volvo has now outlined one of its own autonomous vehicle projects in Sweden: a self-driving garbage truck. Like Uber Freight, the project is another effort to extend self-driving technology beyond just shuttling people around in self-driving taxis. After all, someone has to line up the garbage cans for the vehicle -- because you sure don't when you're rushing your trash out the door on your way to work.
Following initial testing back in May, Uber has announced later this month customers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be able to request a ride in self-driving cars using their Uber app. Uber's fleet of self-driving cars, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, will consist of specifically modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles fitted with sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. But when the cars hit the roads, for the time being, they will be supervised by people in the driver's seat, and rides will be free, Uber said. The test cars used during the initial trials, however, were hybrid Ford Fusion, indicating Uber has not ruled out the idea of expanding its self-driving fleet with other car manufacturers. Earlier this week, Ford promised to deliver fully autonomous and driverless ride-sharing vehicles by 2021.
An Uber driver sits in his car near San Francisco International Airport on July 15, 2015. Uber and Volvo will invest a combined 300 million into a joint project to develop self-driving vehicles, the companies announced Thursday. In a statement, the companies said they will equip base vehicles with autonomous driving technology, ultimately moving toward manufacturing self-driving vehicles. Volvo will make the vehicles, while Uber purchases those vehicles and implement its own self-driving tech. "Over one million people die in car accidents every year," said Uber CEO Travis Kalanick in a statement.
Uber had the lead on ride-hailing and self-driving cars for a while, but it's encountered some roadblocks. Now Lyft is jumping in, with the announcement that the U.S. ride-hailing company will develop its own self-driving technology at a facility in Silicon Valley. "We believe Lyft is in the best position to demonstrate what a great overall user experience can be. Lyft is also uniquely positioned to build technology in collaboration with partners in a way that makes it possible to roll out self-driving cars at scale in the fastest, safest, most efficient way," Lyft Vice President of Engineering Luc Vincent wrote in a Medium post announcing Lyft's plans. Lyft earlier this year introduced an open self-driving platform that allowed car manufacturers and self-driving systems to sync with Lyft's network.
Google's autonomous driving spinoff, Waymo, has developed sensors that pair with its self-driving software, potentially opening the door for the company to sell a comprehensive system that automakers build into future car models. Google initially built its self-driving software on a prototype car outfitted with sensors, cameras and other hardware from outside suppliers. But to build a more affordable and sophisticated system capable of fully autonomous driving, the company decided it needed to create both halves of the technology, executives said. The announcement comes just weeks after Japanese automaker Honda said it would incorporate Waymo's technology into some of its vehicles. The companies said that deal was centered on research rather than producing vehicles for market, Bloomberg News reported.