Swedish car manufacturer, Volvo, has teamed up with Uber to develop a production car that is capable of driving itself. Volvo and Uber signed an engineering agreement in 2016 and have produced several prototypes of self-driving vehicles to date. Volvo is an indirect consumer of Formex parts that have been sold to our 1st Tier customers.

The model used to launch the self-driving technology is the Volvo XC90 sports utility vehicle (SUV). This partnership could one day see Uber using autonomous technology to drive customers to their various destinations. The companies both believe that this could minimise human error in road accidents and vastly improve vehicle safety.

How self-driving cars will work

An array of sensors are placed around the vehicle that scan the road in all directions. They detect changes in the road surface, scan the lane, find other objects and vehicles nearby and look for pedestrians. These sensors feed information back into the computer system that controls the steering, acceleration and braking functions of the vehicle.

The most vital features of the self-driving production cars are the back-up systems for steering and braking. These systems need to be foolproof if paying Uber customers are to trust the technology and use the driverless vehicles. These backup systems will bring the vehicle safely to a stop should the primary steering or braking mechanisms fail.

These sensors and computer systems allow the Volvo cars to drive themselves around urban environments and on highways. Along with other global positioning systems (GPS) and tracking technologies, the companies will be able to accurately track and supervise their fleets. The two companies are working together to manufacture and deliver tens of thousands of self-driving cars in the 2020s. 

Volvo and Uber partnership could lead the way in self-driving technology

“We believe autonomous drive technology will allow us to further improve safety – the foundation of our company,” says Volvo president and CEO Håkan Samuelsson.

“By the middle of the next decade, we expect one-third of all the cars we sell to be fully autonomous. Our agreement with Uber underlines our ambition to be the supplier of choice to the world’s leading ride-hailing companies.”

“Working in close cooperation with companies like Volvo is a key ingredient to effectively building a safe, scalable, self-driving fleet,” explains Uber Advanced Technologies Group CEO Eric Meyhofer. “Volvo has long been known for their commitment to safety, which is the cornerstone of their newest production-ready self-driving base vehicle,” he adds.

Volvo Cars South Africa managing director, Greg Maruszewski, is excited for the future that this partnership presents. He says that the advent of self-driving production cars could improve road safety on South Africa’s highways and urban centres.

“Whilst we don’t expect to see these vehicles on our roads in the short term, when they do arrive, they can only serve to have a positive effect on road safety for people travelling in and around the car,” he says.

Formex Industries is a metal forming and assembly company that supplies a variety of complex products to the local automotive industry and export market. The company is based in the Nelson Mandela Bay metropole, South Africa’s foremost region for automotive manufacturing and export.

Formex specialises in producing components for the catalytic converter industry, as well as metal components and assemblies for the various vehicles. Formex aims to become one of the foremost suppliers for the South African automotive industry by 2035, aligning itself with the South African Automotive Masterplan (SAAM) which takes effect in 2020.

Formex is a Level 2 B-BBEE supplier with over 80% black ownership, of which more than 40% are black women. The company is owned by Deneb Investments Limited – a subsidiary of Hosken Consolidated Investments Limited (HCI) – one of South Africa’s biggest true B-BBEE companies listed on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE).

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