*While many people are just now beginning to even trust riding in a car driven by a stranger, and are now getting pulled in by the convenience of rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft, something new and different is now being thrown in the mix.
The rideshare service with NO ONE in the driver’s seat!
You heard it right, our dear friends at Uber have decided to kick it up a notch and introduce its first self-driving automobile to pick you up and take you on your way.
Hey, Uber is a business. And what do businesses do? Businesses focus on the bottom line and try to eliminate expenses and make profits.
So although Uber has more than a gaZILLION drivers on the road, bringing their 2016 cash revenue — as in “how much do you have in the bank, homie?” to a staggering $4.1 BILLION according to Business Insider, it appears the company is now working towards eliminating the expense called human drivers.
First stop to test this innovative move: Pittsburgh!
This week, Uber announced its riders will be able to opt-in to be guinea pigs, er, I mean, the very first to test the autonomous vehicles — which will be Ford Fusions. And all it takes to call on one is the push of a button on your smartphone.
Not that other companies haven’t been dabbing into self-driving cars on public roads. They have, actually for quite some time now.
But Uber is the very first to give the people access to the experiment.
Hey, with millionaires like Arianna Huffington on your Board of Directors, its not like you can’t cough up the resources in the event another one of those lawsuits pops up.
Like the one an Uber driver won a $15,000 settlement for, when she said Uber took unauthorized monies out of her pay.
Uber didn’t admit fault, but decided to settle anyway.
“While we disagreed with these claims, we have decided to focus our resources on the bigger picture, including the O’Connor case,” an Uber spokesperson wrote. A settlement does not admit fault, and Dollar is not considered an employee of Uber as a result.
But Travis Kalanick, the company CEO, may be a lot of things, but a fool is not one of them. Yes, the cars are being marketed as driverless or self-driven, but you’d better believe a human is going to be sitting close by in the event some I Robot-type-stuff goes down, and good old brainpower has to take over.
I can’t help having this vision, and you’d have to know Los Angeles to appreciate it, but then again, just imagine the area I am describing in your own city. So you are a rider in one of these “self-driving” cars as it winds around one of those blind curves on Mulholland in L.A. There you are, hundreds of feet up above street level (i.e. in the hills), on a two-lane road designating two-way traffic and no borders (as in, oh shit, is that a cliff!) and you don’t know if a driver is coming around the bend.
AND THERE IS NO ONE AT THE WHEEL!!!?
According to a report in the Chicago Tribune, the rides will come with a which come with a human backup driver to handle situations that the autonomous cars haven’t seen, will be free to those willing to take part, the company said.
Uber, which has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh, has no immediate plans to deploy autonomous cars beyond the Pittsburgh experiment. But its CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said that without drivers, the cost of hailing a ride will be cheaper than owning a car.
Inevitably, one day we may get to ask Uber, “And how’s that working out for you?” But no time soon. We’ll have to see how it goes in Pittsburgh.
And hey, if you live in Pittsburgh or know someone who does;someone who decides to ride in this self-driven car, please have them hit me up with their experience. They can email me with their contact info at firstname.lastname@example.org
***Never taken an Uber ride? Use this code: TW5ZD and get your first ride free.
***Want to become an Uber driver? Use this code: TW5ZD and get a nice monetary bonus after a certain number of trips!
Take a look at the self-driven video below to learn more about what to expect.