Uber Enters Race to Perfect Driverless Vehicle Technology

Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service.

According to a statement by the company posted online yesterday, the initial testing phase is being conducted on the streets of Pittsburgh, using a hybrid Ford Fusion fitted with various sensors including radar, laser scanners and cameras.

Uber driverless
The test vehicle from Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) collects mapping data as it travels, while a trained driver monitors operations in the car at all times.

The driverless project is being carried out in partnership with Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. Uber says it is pursuing the goal of inducting autonomous vehicles into its fleet by 2020.
Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission to make transportation as reliable as running water — everywhere and for everyone.
Uber joins an accelerating industry race for the mainstream introduction of self-driving cars, with Tesla already developing the technology and multiple Chinese firms also making headway.

There have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles for its own car project, codenamed "Titan", but sources say the first car it releases will not be driverless, with that functionality perhaps coming at a later date.

Tag: Uber


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25 months ago
As a robot is driving the taxi they are forgetting a vital part of the artificial intelligence, such as the robots views' on immigration as well the actual location of flight MH370.
Rating: 20 Votes
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25 months ago
I can imagine the day when you'll be able to call a driverless taxi and it will take you whereever you want without a driver inside. To us, the first adopters, this will be so eerie.

But our grandkids will wonder:
What? You want to drive a car yourself? Are you crazy?!
Rating: 9 Votes
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25 months ago
A decade ago, the sheer prospect of driverless cars becoming mainstream was a fantasy. A decade from now, we could be looking back and wondering how we ever did without.
Rating: 8 Votes
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25 months ago
This shouldn't surprise anyone, smart move by Uber. They're proving to be a very smart and forward-thinking company, way more than just a cheap taxi alternative.
Rating: 6 Votes
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25 months ago
Exciting times to be alive and witness all of this. I can remember me as a kid, fantasizing about autonomous cars (probably influenced by shows like Knight rider), but I seriously didn't expect it to happen for real, or at least in my lifetime. And we're almost there. It's really happening. Awesome!
Rating: 5 Votes
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25 months ago

But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.

Maybe they can automatically drive to some fill up stations uber make an agreement for filling up and bill to them
Rating: 4 Votes
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25 months ago

I can imagine the day when you'll be able to call a driverless taxi and it will take you whereever you want without a driver inside. To us, the first adopters, this will be so eerie.

But our grandkids will wonder:
What? You want to drive a car yourself? Are you crazy?!

"Are you kidding kid? I preferred it."
Rating: 4 Votes
Avatar
25 months ago

Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service.


I'm sure their drivers love to hear this. Could you imagine working for a company that was actively working towards a goal of getting rid of about 99% of their workforce? I'm all for progress, but that would make me feel really weird.

According to this quote from the Washington Post ('https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2015/01/22/now-we-know-many-drivers-uber-has-and-how-much-money-theyre-making%E2%80%8B/'):

The analysis also reveals for the first time the size of Uber’s driver pool in the United States and the rapid rate at which it’s expanding. In December, 162,037 “active drivers” completed at least four or more trips for the service. The number of new drivers signing up has doubled every six months for the past two years.


That's going to be a lot of people to lay off several years down the road, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. According to the website All Trucking ('http://www.alltrucking.com/faq/truck-drivers-in-the-usa/'):

There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association ('http://www.trucking.org/News_and_Information_Reports_Industry_Data.aspx'). The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million.


So that's a lot more people who will be eventually replaced. See this story about semi-autonomous trucks driving across Europe ('https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/apr/07/convoy-self-driving-trucks-completes-first-european-cross-border-trip') to get a glimpse of where things are headed. Then there are other jobs to consider: Postal and package delivery drivers, bus drivers, chauffers, maybe even tow truck drivers and more. Then you have tertiary industries, such as automotive insurance, which could eventually no longer be needed or at least have a very reduced role. That means adjusters, agents, managers, call centers and more jobs would be no longer needed, or have a severe reduction in number of positions. The reduction in accidents would also mean that auto mechanics would have a reduced role in society, especially for collision repair. This also means that fewer auto parts would need to be made, which impacts other industries, and could make auto repair in general more costly. You would also need fewer patrol officers, and cities would get less income from speeding tickets, parking tickets, and more—which is, perhaps surprising to some, a big part of many city budgets.

And I'm not even touching on the job impacts of a move from oil to electric.

To reiterate, I'm all for progress, and am in no way saying that these changes are bad. I'm all for a more efficient system that makes life easier and is better for the environment. But I just hope that organizational think tanks and governing bodies are acting now to research the impacts that this will have on our economy and the employment outlook, because this is going to be a tremendous period of transformation affecting many fundamental aspects of our society. And yet again, I'm not even touching on the privacy aspects revolving around government surveillance, the law aspects for whose fault an unlikely accident would be, and more. That's a whole other can of worms. It's really incredible how much change this will bring. It's an exciting time to be alive, but change can be difficult, especially when it has the potential to be this disruptive. But I'm hopeful our society will eventually benefit greatly from these improvements. The potential to greatly empower the elderly, people with disabilities and more with easy access to transportation will be fantastic, as well as the reduction in automobile deaths and pollution from energy efficient autonomous driving.
Rating: 3 Votes
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25 months ago
Great, now the taxi drivers here in Portugal can beat exclusively the Uber's passenger.
Rating: 3 Votes
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25 months ago

But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.


I suspect Uber won't own any cars. They'll get their 'contractors' to own and maintain the cars, fuelling them up, cleaning them etc. Like it is now.
Rating: 3 Votes
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