STOCKHOLM -- Volvo Car Group and Autoliv today said they would form a joint venture to develop autonomous driving software as automotive firms across the industry race to embrace the emerging technology.
The two Sweden-based companies said the joint venture would have an initial workforce of about 200 staff taken from both parent companies. That number will increase to about 600 within two years, Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson said at a press conference Tuesday.
The joint venture, which is to be headquartered in Gothenburg, Sweden, will focus on developing algorithms and software for advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) and highly automated driving systems for use in Volvo cars. The new company also will have sites in Germany and in Southfield, Michigan, Autoliv CEO Jan Carlson said at the press conference.
The partners' ADAS systems should be ready for market by 2019 with the automated driving technology set to debut in 2021, Carlson added.
The technology developed by the joint venture, which the partners want to be operational by the start of 2017, will also be sold by Autoliv to carmakers globally, with revenues shared by both companies, they CEOs said.
After the press conference Samuelsson told Automotive News Europe in a phone interview that he and Carlson decided when they started to discuss the deal that it would only work if both companies pitched in their most valuable know-how.
For Volvo that was its decision-making software that determines how the car will react in different situations. For Autoliv, that was its sensor technology and computer vision systems.
The other key was creating an completely open, transparent environment for collaboration. "That was the breakthough," Samuelsson said, adding that a normal automaker-supplier relationship would not work in this case. "This has to be done in a faster, more dynamic way."
Added Carlson: "This is an example of one plus one equaling more than two."
The collaboration with Autoliv and Volvo is the latest step in a high-tech push by the Volvo in an industry scrambling to adopt the latest technology and where autonomous driving is seen at the forefront.
Last month, Volvo agreed a $300 million alliance with Uber to develop self-driving cars. Volvo also said it would hire about 400 engineers over the coming year to bolster development mainly in software, in its biggest ever recruitment drive.
Volvo, bought by China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group from Ford in 2010, also is working closely with Autoliv and Nvidia on the automaker’s Drive Me autonomous driving pilot program to test a fleet of 100 self-driving XC90s on the streets of Gothenburg, Sweden, starting next autumn.
Douglas A. Bolduc contributed to this report