Not a prototype anymore, this is production ready. Volvo and Uber have engineered this system together since 2016 and yes, there were some issues along the way but today, this XC90 is officially the first production car capable of fully driving itself.
That's right Tesla, we're talking Level 5 autonomy here, no humans needed at all. Volvo believes autonomous drive can have the potential to significantly increase road safety as a whole when all cars are autonomous someday. Until that moment, customers will just have an overall better driving experience because they can use the time usually wasted by mundane driving tasks such as stop-start driving in traffic jams otherwise and just enjoy driving when the streets are clear.
Okay, let's talk now about the elephant on the roof here, that camera-sensor-monster on top of the beautiful, recently refreshed Volvo XC90. This is basically the Uber driver of the future:
The vehicle itself is equipped with all kinds of intelligent features that work together with Uber's system to enable autonomous drive. So Uber can basically just put on their sensor-box and they're ready to go.
Most importantly, the XC90's features include several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions as well as battery back-up power. These back-up systems will immediately jump in and if necessary even stop the car if any of the primary systems should actually fail for any reason.
Of course there's an array of sensors built directly into the car as well that all work together to safely operate and maneuver even in urban environments.
It wasn't said directly in today's announcement exactly when Uber plans to start using the technology on public roads, but I guess this is more a political question for individual countries than a free decision by Uber or Volvo.
Nevertheless, Volvo have also announced that they will offer autonomous driving technologies built on a similar base as Uber's roof box from factory with the next generation of Volvo cars from 2020 on.
Source: Volvo Cars