Uber, the popular car service, will soon be going without drivers in their cars. This is a monumental step forward not only for the ever popular ride hailing service, but for robotic cars in general. Google has been using robotic car technology for awhile now, and Tesla even has their autopilot function, so for Uber to make the jump to this makes a lot of sense.
Since robotic car technology is still in its relative infancy, Uber isn’t going to just leave drivers at the mercy of a robotically driven car. While they are testing out the driverless cars, they will still be placing people in the cars to be there to monitor the cars and take over if the car needs it. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be the first city to test out this new venture, and the residents there are divided on the project.
Uber has been doing road tests since May, as people have seen the driverless cars driving around, as the cars themselves are hard to hide with the amount of technology and gadgets on the roofs of the cars. Apparently, even the Uber employees who are driven around the main area where the testing was done were unaware of the project, which seemed be tight-lipped and maybe a just a little secretive.
A lot of concerns that residents have is that since the project was so clouded in secrecy, it’s hard to trust Uber. And as is the case with robotic car tech in general, people are scared to be driven around by a computer instead of a human. This is sentiment is most prevalent in the senior citizen demographic, as they want to see results, tests, and above all demonstrations of the tech in action.
The other group of people not happy about robotic cars are the Uber drivers themselves. Now, this is pretty obvious, as they will lose a source of income, and for some people, their only source of income. Despite a statement from Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick stating that the need for human drivers won’t be declining, and in fact more jobs will be created by robotic cars, Uber drivers aren’t really that convinced.
So the debate will continue to rage on: driverless vs traditional. Uber wants to further this technology, so they will be launching soon in Pittsburgh, and if all goes well, it will continue to expand to other cities. While many and more people are concerned with robots lacking the intuition and instinct people have when driving, it stands to say that robotically driven cars have successfully driven without the number of accidents people account for on a daily basis.