Uber To Launch Autonomous Cars

The ride-sharing app Uber has made good on its promise of nearly 2 years ago to throw its hat into the ring of driverless cars. CEO Travis Kalanick publicly intimated in 2015 that he wanted to launch a fleet of driverless cars and take the app into the future. And now after having set up a research center dedicated to driving and mapping applications, the company has gone full steam ahead with a planned roll-out of autonomous cars.

Naturally, a few questions dog the company given Uber’s original business platform that empowered independent contractors across the globe. Those very same drivers ultimately have cost Uber a pretty penny both in expenses and damage control. One only look at a Reddit grocery list of Uber horror stories to get the skinny on that. So putting the kibosh on its unpredictable core of drivers seems only natural for a company that hopes to streamline its costs as both the global economy spirals out of control and competition in the market increases steadily.

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As for the self-driving taxis themselves, Uber has kitted a Ford Fusion with laser technology and taken to the

Uber first tested its driverless app with Ford. Photo courtesy of Uber.

Uber first tested its driverless app with Ford. Photo courtesy of Uber.

streets of Pittsburgh to get a good gauge of how well the tech will perform. The ultimate goal is to bring an end to car ownership altogether if Uber has its way. And while some may raise their eyebrows in doubt, we’re much closer to that reality than one would imagine. Streets are already fitted with self-driving and driver assist tech to help such autonomous vehicles navigate the roadways. Suburbs and complicated metropolises like New York or Hong Kong may still be some time away before they are completely overrun by such cars. But the blueprint is there.

Going forward, Uber has announced that Uber users in Pittsburgh will be able to hail a driverless Uber from the app. They have an option for an autonomous vehicle with a human backup present. As for the vehicle itself, Uber has moved on from Ford to working closely with Volvo.

Uber is launching driverless taxis in the streets of Pittsburg. Photo courtesy of Uber.

Uber is launching driverless taxis in the streets of Pittsburg. Photo courtesy of Uber.

Kalanick suggests that driverless cars will ultimately be safer than human driving. And he has a round of support in that argument ranging from Elon Musk to the U.S. Government. And given the interest in the tech, Uber joins a crowded field of tech giants all hoping to make their driverless cars readily available to the public as soon as possible.