Uber Technologies’ big ideas for global expansion appear to be matched only by the size of its financial losses, as the ride-hailing leader last month took a step toward self-driving technology while reportedly burning through billions in cash.

The San Francisco-based company is about to start testing self-driving vehicles for its customers in Pittsburgh after reaching agreements with both Volvo and self-driving technology company Otto.

The test vehicles will have both a safety driver in the driver’s seat ready to take over the vehicle when necessary as well as an engineer in the passenger’s seat. The vehicle models will be the Volvo XC90 SUV and the Ford Focus.

Uber is starting the program after acquiring Otto, a technology company active in the development of autonomous-driving systems for long-haul trucks.

Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski will head Uber’s self-driving technology efforts.

Uber also said it reached a partnership with Swedish automaker Volvo involving the further development of self-driving vehicles.

Uber did not disclose specifics on how much it paid for Otto or the value of its agreement with Volvo, which is owned by the China-based Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, though the Wall Street Journal reported that the agreement is worth $300 million. The Journal also said the Pittsburgh program could involve as many as 100 vehicles.

“By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone, ” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick wrote in a blog post last month.

Such technology is likely a key to Uber’s future profitability, as autonomous or semi-autonomous vehicles would enable Uber to reduce costs by using fewer (or eventually no) drivers. That prospect has helped Uber raise as much $15 billion since its 2009 founding and has pushed its valuation to more than $60 billion despite never making a profit.

How Uber drivers will respond to the prospect of such efforts remains to be seen. Uber drivers earlier this year staged protests in New York, San Francisco and other cities after the company reduced fares by 15%.

In the meantime, profitability may be a long way off. During the first half of the year, Uber took a $1.27 billion loss, according to Bloomberg News, which cited people familiar with a recent presentation by the company’s executives. Through June, Uber generated about $2 billion in revenue on about $8.8 billion in global bookings.

Uber didn’t respond to requests for comment last week.

The company could also face an additional threat from Google. The Wall Street Journal reported that the online search giant is piloting its own ride-sharing project based on Waze, the vehicle-navigation company it acquired for $1.1 billion in 2013.

Already underway in the San Francisco Bay area is a program that enables employees of Google, Adobe and Wal-Mart to use Waze to hail nearby drivers who are headed to a rider’s location. Under the program, the riders pay the drivers about 54 cents a mile, which would effectively undercut ride-hailing companies such as Uber and its smaller competitor Lyft, the Journal reported.

Google representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

“Uber has probably broken just about every record for fundraising,” said Douglas Quinby, vice president of research at travel research company Phocuswright. “The question is, how long are investors willing to accept short-term losses to fund Uber’s aggressive investments in growth and innovation?”

As for self-driving technology, Uber could be ready for it before its passengers are, said Los Angeles-based Uber driver Noe Gomez. “I asked one of my passengers about it last week, and he said, ‘Do you think I’m ever going in this [self-driving] car with my kids?’,” Gomez said.

He said he makes about $1,000 a week working full-time for Uber.

“But these millionaires, they want to make more money, and if they’re investing millions of dollars in that, it’s got to be serious,” he said.

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