Volvo Car Corp. and ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. have signed a 300 million agreement to co-develop autonomous sport-utility vehicles that will either be used as self-driving taxis or sold to consumers. The two companies will announce the joint project Thursday, saying the Swedish auto maker will conduct much of the initial engineering on a platform for an XC90 SUV that is capable of piloting itself. At some point, Uber will take that technology and use it as the foundation to develop its own self-driving vehicle technology. Volvo will do the same. Under the agreement, Uber will buy XC90 SUVs manufactured by Volvo.
We've already heard about Google's somewhat controversial autonomous vehicle test program which began two years ago using Toyota Prii and other vehicles. It appears now that yet another hybrid has been added to the driverless vehicle list. Said hybrid is a cousin to the Prius, the Lexus RX450h, and it was reportedly spotted traveling along a Southern California Freeway with the autonomous testing gear mounted atop its roof. The sighting comes just days after the California Senate passed Bill 1298, which enables the California Highway Patrol to set standards and performance requirements relating to autonomous vehicle testing. The picture also indicates the testing apparatus has been somewhat modified since earlier tests.
Ford gave a glimpse of its next generation Fusion Hybrid self-driving car Wednesday in a video. The car, which will be revealed at CES 2017 and the North American International Show in January, is the next-generation of hybrid autonomous cars, the company said. Ford launched its first-generation Fusion Hybrid autonomous research vehicles three years ago. The new car has the current Ford autonomous vehicle platform, but revamps the processing power with new computer hardware. The vehicle also comes with new electrical controls and two 360-degree view LiDAR sensors, which have a sleeker design and more targeted field of vision, Ford says.
Canada's BlackBerry Ltd (BB.TO) will open an autonomous driving research center on Monday, as it tries to make itself an indispensable under-the-hood piece of the automotive industry's weaponry in the self-driving vehicle arms race. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will attend the launch by the Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone pioneer, the prime minister's office said on Sunday. A Blackberry spokeswoman deferred any comment on the project until Monday. Blackberry, once known for its phones but now betting its future on the more profitable business of making software and managing mobile devices after largely ceding the smartphone market to the likes of Apple and Samsung, is expanding subsidiary QNX's Ottawa facility to focus on developing advanced driver assistance and autonomous vehicle technology. After a detour where QNX's industrial-focused software was used to reinvent the now-discarded BlackBerry phone operating system, BlackBerry is focused on how its embedded software interacts with the explosion of sensors, cameras and other components required for a car to drive itself.