Ride-sharing firm Uber is set to launch a self-driving car service in the next few weeks.
Travis Kalanik, Chief Executive of the firm, told Bloomberg Businessweek in a recent interview that Uber would be launching self-driving cars this month in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The company’s master plan is to eventually replace all of Uber’s one million drivers.
Uber explained that rather develop its own vehicles, it is outfitting cars with autonomous driving kits and Kalanik today confirmed on Uber’s website the purchase of Otto, a start-up launched this year to bring self-driving technology to trucks.
A partnership with Volvo was also announced today, which will see the two companies work together to develop new autonomous vehicles. These will be manufactured by Volvo and then purchased for use by Uber.
According to the Bloomberg article, approximately 100 modified Volvo XC90s will be deployed in Pittsburgh between now and the end of the year, with each vehicle ‘overseen’ by both an engineer/driver that can take over if there is a problem and a co-pilot to watch and take notes.
The boot of every car will also contain a computer that will record trip data.
Uber began testing its self-driving cars back in May in the city. Now adding the driverless cars to its active Pennsylvania fleet, customers can order a car via the Uber app as usual, but will randomly be paired with driverless cars. For a short time, those who ride in one of the autonomous vehicles will be given the trip for free.