The big Swedish SUV is a blank canvas of sensors and computer hardware upon which Uber will execute its software vision.
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Volvo and Uber have whipped the covers off their production XC90 self-driving car, as the ride-sharing giant ramps up its efforts to remove human drivers from its fleet.

The two companies have been working together since 2016, putting XC90 prototypes through their paces in Arizona and California. It was an Uber XC90 that struck and killed Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona during testing.

Uber's self-driving software was subsequently blamed for the fatal crash, with reports suggesting the XC90 actually noticed the pedestrian but didn't respond or take evasive action – and Volvo's in-house semi-autonomous assist systems had been switched off by Uber.

The new "vehicle platform" will allow Uber to "easily install its own self-driving system, enabling the possible future deployment of self-driving cars in Uber’s network as an autonomous ride sharing service".

In other words, Volvo has delivered a car with sensors and the computer infrastructure for Uber, which will subsequently install its own control software.

According to the media release, the production iteration includes "several back-up systems for both steering and braking functions as well as battery back-up power. If any of the primary systems should fail for some reason, the back-up systems are designed to immediately act to bring the car to a stop".

Neither Volvo or Uber has put a date on when the XC90 will enter full, driverless service, nor have either revealed how many have been sold.

The self-driving "base vehicle concept" used here will also help inform the rollout of Volvo's forthcoming autonomous and semi-autonomous systems.