A three-year collaboration between Volvo and Uber has just turned into a huge autonomous car order.

Volvo and ride-hailing company Uber have just announced a three-year deal that will see Uber buying up to 24,000 vehicles. The new Volvos will form the beginning of Uber’s autonomous taxi fleet.

The two have been partners in developing self-driving vehicles for nearly three years. That agreement has seen Volvo XC90 crossovers fitted with autonomous driving hardware from Volvo and software from Uber.

The autonomous XC90s have been undergoing on-road testing, giving real rides to real passengers in Arizona, as well as in Pittsburgh.

SEE ALSO: Uber and Volvo To Put Self-Driving SUVs on US Roads by Year-End

The new agreement will be in place from 2019 to 2021. It will see Uber buying Volvos fitted with what the agreement calls all necessary safety, redundancy, and core autonomous driving technologies. Uber will add its own self-drive technologies to the vehicles after it takes delivery. The plan is for level 4 autonomy, or nearly fully autonomous.

What exactly does that mean? Jeff Miller, Uber’s head of automotive alliances, told Automotive News a little bit more about the modifications Uber would complete.

The company won’t change the powertrain but does need to modify the braking and steering systems to¬†increase from level 2 as delivered to level 4 autonomous driving capability.

“Those are two elements that we are making modifications to so the vehicle can operate as a Level 4 autonomous vehicle as opposed to just Level 2 or Level 3,” Miller said. “We also have to embed sensors around the vehicle. In addition to what you see on the roof there are several sensors behind the fascia of the vehicle. We work with Volvo to integrate those changes.”

Uber hasn’t yet announced where it would be setting up a facility to complete the modifications.

Volvo is still planning to continue autonomous development on its own. The company has said that it is still looking for more partners, and would be willing to supply similar vehicles to other ride-hailing companies. It can also apply the technologies to other vehicles like the S90 sedan, V90 wagon, and XC60 crossover that share the XC90’s SPA platform.

Automotive News