Uber Self Driving Taxis
October 7, 2016 — Uber Self Driving Taxis Is Finally Here
Uber is the latest entrant into the field of autonomous vehicle technology. The company recently rolled out its first ever self-driving car in Pittsburgh.
These self driving vehicles have also been spotted in San Francisco, Vegas, Texas and London. With this development, Uber joins other big names like Google and Tesla, who have been dabbling with their own versions of autonomous vehicles for quite some time now.
How It Works
The basic concept is very simple. You can request an Uber ride using the app just like you always do and the company will send you a self-driving car, if it is available. Since this is program is still in its pilot phase, unfortunately not everyone will have access to this option via their app.
Nonetheless to ensure your safety, there will be a driver at the wheel, who will take control of the car should things get dicey due to bad weather or any other unforeseen circumstances.
The technology, though advanced, is still in its infancy. This is why Uber has fitted its self-driving cabs with cameras and also has a co-pilot in the front seat, whose only job is to observe and take notes regarding the car’s performance. The idea is to identify and sort out the glitches and improve the car’s performance.
Uber Self Driving Vehicle Sightings
The Importance of Driver-less Technology
Self driving cars are considered the next big thing in the automotive industry by many. Experts believe that driver-less technology has the potential to significantly reduce traffic accidents, which are mostly caused by human error.
It can lead to lesser traffic regulations and also free up people from spending endless hours behind the wheel commuting to and from work.
Experts are also of the opinion that self-driving cars will have a massive impact on private car ownership in the future as more and more people realize the inherent advantages in car sharing, particularly with self-driven cabs.
Uber Self Driving Car Research
Uber’s entry into the autonomous vehicles segment should not surprise anyone who has been keeping track of the company’s latest business deals and acquisitions.
Last year, it set up an Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh for the very purpose of developing self-driving cars. Earlier this year, it signed an agreement with Volvo to make highly specialized autonomous cars with cameras, sensors, radar, and GPS receivers.
In July, it acquired Otto, a startup company that specializes in driver-less trucks. What is astonishing, however, is the short time in which the goal has become a reality.
In a little over a year, the company has not only developed a successful prototype, but has managed to get its first fleet of self-driving cars on the road.
Much of the credit goes to Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick, who has been relentless in his pursuit of self-driving cars. Over the past two years, he has managed to hire some of the biggest names in the field of autonomous vehicles technology to attain his goal.
One such name is John Bares, who was in charge of Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center for over a decade.
He joined Uber in 2015 and has since formed a team of engineers whose mission is to develop self-driving Uber cabs and get them on the road as quickly as possible.
Implications for the Future
Uber’s audacious step has garnered significant mainstream attention and a lot of people, including industry experts, are eagerly awaiting the results of its experiment.
Should it succeed, it will inspire many other companies to make their foray into the field. Already, Ford has announced that it is planning to develop an autonomous vehicle based ride sharing service.
The trend is likely to continue in the coming years…
Driver-less technology still faces a lot of challenges, as no software has yet perfected the art of driving an automobile in bad weather. Similarly, the cars have been test driven only in areas that have been thoroughly mapped, down to the last square inch.
It is not sure if the cars can drive their way through busy traffic, all the while avoiding pedestrians, cyclists, and stray dogs.
Sensing the challenges, Uber is focused on ironing out the technical glitches, improving the technology, and making the cars more self-reliant than ever before.
The introduction of self-driving cars has opened the doors for many such revolutionary ideas in the automotive industry.
With companies like Uber taking the lead, there is no doubt that we will see significant improvements in the autonomous vehicles technology in the coming years.