Volvo signs deal with Uber for self-driving vehicle supply

Uber Volvo deal to supply XC90

Volvo said it would sell Uber XC90 premium SUVs as "base vehicles" for the autonomous auto project. The autonomous fleet will still be small, compared with the over 2 million humans who drive for Uber. Uber will be purchasing the vehicles between 2019 and 2021, staggering the rollout over multiple years.

Since August previous year, Uber has been testing prototype Volvo cars in Arizona and Pittsburgh.

The statement said that "Volvo Cars' engineers have worked closely together with engineers from Uber to develop the XC90 premium SUVs that are to be supplied to Uber". Uber is clearly trying to ramp up its effort to bring self-driving vehicles to consumers, while Volvo has said that the automotive industry is being disrupted by technology and it wants to play an active part in that disruption.

This is not Uber's first partnership with Volvo.

The tests - which have involved human operators to intervene if anything happens - took a beating in March, when one of the Volvo's crashed and flipped on its side in Arizona (Uber was not at fault in the accident and was hit by another vehicle that failed to yield). Previously, we've seen Uber test its self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in Pittsburgh, and the company has already established a strong and strategic partnership with Volvo since August 2016.

More news: Israeli minister reveals covert contacts with Saudi Arabia amid Iran concerns

But the status of the project was unclear after Waymo sued Uber this year, claiming the ride-hailing company stole trade secrets, and the U.S. Justice Department opened an inquiry into the matter.

Uber has just taken another big step from a ride-sharing service to a transportation provider.

But the new deal vastly increases the number of Volvo driverless cars that Uber can work with, showing the scope of its ambitions.

A recent tribunal ruled that Uber's drivers qualify as workers, which means they qualify for rights such as the minimum wage and holiday pay, a move that the company says could fundamentally damage the way it operates.

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