Volvo is forming a joint venture with Swedish automotive safety supplier Autoliv to develop autonomous driving software and sell it to other automakers. It’s the first time an automaker has partnered with a "tier-one" supplier to develop self-driving technology.
The deal will see Volvo and Autoliv move their autonomous vehicle software development and intellectual property to the joint venture, which will start with an initial headcount of 200 employees (split between the existing staffs of both companies) and will grow to more than 600. The new company will be headquartered in Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden.
the new company will sell autonomous technology to other automakers
Until now, most automakers have been keeping their internally developed autonomous vehicle technology close to the vest, but this venture will see Volvo’s self-driving tech made available to other carmakers, with revenue shared between Volvo and Autoliv.
Both Volvo and Autoliv will transfer their autonomous vehicle intellectual property to the new joint venture, with Autoliv acting as the exclusive supplier of any developed technology to outside companies (Volvo will purchase directly from the joint venture).
Volvo has a history of developing safety innovations that it then provides to other automakers. It could be that the company considers autonomous driving a similarly crucial safety feature and is willing to give up any competitive advantage it might have keeping the technology to itself. Of course, unlike Volvo inventions such as the three-point seatbelt harness, this autonomous tech won’t be available free of charge.