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Big Companies Making Roads Safer
August 23, 2016 News

Big Data proponent and industry leader, Uber, have taken a giant step into the future. Buying into Otto, a start-up tech company that is on a mission to change the way transportation, as well as truck delivery is currently run. They have also partnered with Volvo and begun a journey of epic proportions. Very much unchartered waters. Or in this case, roads.

Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-Founder of Uber says in his personal address on the website, “I’m excited to announce that Uber has acquired Otto, a 90-plus person technology startup whose mission is to rethink transportation, starting with self-driving trucks. Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will now lead our combined self-driving efforts reporting directly to me—across personal transportation, delivery and trucking—in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh.”

Levandowski who is a world leader in autonomous engineering, having invented a self-driving motorcycle aptly named Ghostrider, also happens to be an ingenious entrepreneur in his own right. It would seem like a dream partnership straight out of the gate.

Then there’s Volvo Cars, as the big muscle manufacturer, who have signed the agreement to develop new base vehicles that will be able to take on the latest in AD tech which will include, and not limited to, fully autonomous driverless cars. The combined investment of USD300M will see cars manufactured by Volvo Cars and purchased by UBER.

The two will use the same base vehicles for their own autonomous cars, where Uber will attach its own development of their autonomous system to the cars, and Volvo will add theirs. The joint venture is also a big step from Volvo, a car manufacturer to be teaming up with a Silicon valley industry player. Its paving the way in evolving towards a new future with big data analytics that has already infiltrated most other industries.

The base vehicle which will be developed on Volvo’s fully modular Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), is one of the most advanced in the industry and currently being used on the XC90 SUV, S90 Premium Sedan and the V90 Premium Estate. The SPA technology is part of Volvo Cars USD 11bn global industry transformation programme which began in 2010, setting themselves up to autonomous drive technologies, electrification and connectivity, which was what brought Uber to them.

Other aspects of autonomous driving cars will also be developed that will add scalability and include safety features, other redundancies and new features that are required for vehicles to be on the roads safely and efficiently.

Travis says “Over one million people die in car accidents every year. These are tragedies that self-driving technology can help solve, but we can’t do this alone. That’s why our partnership with a great manufacturer like Volvo is so important. Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety. By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

Otto’s self-driving trucks too make highways safer through their hardware and software which are tuned specifically to the patterns and predictable road conditions of highway driving. Sensors which are installed onto trucks are placed to have unobstructed view of the road ahead.

The team at Otto carry years of mapping software experience and hundreds of thousands of autonomous miles of R&D to their technology. Which was why Uber have taken them under their wing. With nearly 70% of things we buy utilising long-haul transits which in turn cause hundreds of thousands of trucking accidents each year, Otto is taking it upon themselves to change that statistic.

Together with Uber and Volvo’s initiatives, particularly Volvo’s world renowned stringent safety features, the idea to make roads accident free would seem, not too far off in the making.