As part of a strategic plan to expand its self-driving vehicle test fleet, DiDi Autonomous Driving has struck a partnership with Volvo Cars. The signed agreement maintains that Volvo will supply DiDi with XC90 models to have autonomous software and hardware installed. The collaboration strengthens Volvo’s reputation as a global leader in automotive safety and the vehicle of choice for self-driving fleets.
The Volvo XC90 will be the first vehicle to feature DiDi Gemini, a new self-driving hardware platform that will make it fully autonomous. These XC90s will also come equipped with the necessary backup systems for functions such as steering and braking. DiDi intends to deploy this fleet of self-driving XC90s for ride-hailing in its network at a later date.
The standard safety equipment and backup systems on the XC90 make it ideal for autonomous software integration. Didi’s ultimate goal is to allow this fleet of robotaxis to operate without safety drivers. This agreement is the beginning of a long-term partnership between Volvo Cars and Didi Autonomous Driving. DiDi aims to increase commercial robotaxi operations while also growing its autonomous vehicle test fleet across China and the United States.
This isn’t DiDi’s first use of a Volvo as a robotaxi. In fact, its first pilot robotaxi program, which took place in Shanghai in 2020, used Volvo-supplied XC60 SUVs. Using the DiDi app, people in Shanghai could book trips in one of these self-driving XC60s, which a safety driver and engineer monitored.
The partnership between Volvo Cars and DiDi comes at a time when ride-hailing firms all over the world are looking to increase their fleets with fully autonomous vehicles. It seems possible Volvo vehicles may soon become as synonymous with ride-hailing apps as the Checker Taxi was to cabs in the U.S. for much of the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s.