Uber Self Driving Cars

Uber to begin picking up Pittsburgh passengers in self-driving cars

August 25, 2016

 

Volvo Uber autonomous driving cars

Starting in September, Uber riders in Pittsburgh could be driving to the future, and their destination, in an autonomous Volvo XC90.

 

Snow in Pittsburgh

Why Pittsburgh?

I know, right? Why not here in Southern California where the weather is good and the traffic is horrendous? Self-driving cars would always be on dry pavement and they would have minutes, not milliseconds, to plan their every move. As it turns out, Pittsburgh is where the engineers working on the project live, so it makes perfect sense.

 

Volvo Safety Infographic

Is it Safe?

The autonomous Uber vehicles in this trial are Volvo XC90s, a top choice for safety. During the initial phase, a human driver will be behind the wheel to take over if needed. Another Uber employee will be riding shotgun to monitor the software and hardware controlling the vehicle. This should make the odds of having an accident lower, and the risk of having a conversation higher.

Will Autonomous Uber Service Become Popular?

Probably. Did I mention it was free (for a limited time)? Regardless of the Uber outcome, we are headed for a driverless future. There are big name companies lining up to give it a good push start. Twenty years from now, the thrill of seeing a passenger with no driver will be over and autonomous transportation will be the norm, because it will be safer and more efficient.

What Will Happen to the Uber Drivers?

When I first read about this new autonomous car service from Uber, I was reminded of the Total Recall movie scene with Arnold Schwarzenegger and the clumsy animatronic taxi driver that didn’t understand the need for a quick getaway. It did not end well for Johnny Cab then, and it will likely not end well for Uber drivers in the future.

Pittsburgh Map 1855

All Hail Artificial Intelligence

When autonomous A.I. becomes of age, professional drivers will be about as useful as a folding road map. Artificial intelligence will be replacing people in many job sectors, including mine--web design. I'm not thrilled by the prospect. But, I don't feel like I am in the driver's seat. Technology is accelerating, for good and bad, with or without us.

Über Foresight

I hope that Uber has, or will, put resources into finding a solution to the problem of replacing people (independent contractors are people too), with machines. It could provide a model for all the other industries where artificial intelligence, robotics and other disruptive technologies are taking jobs away from humans.