Judgement Day has arrived. Okay not really, but the human race is well on its way to self-driving Ubers.
It was two years ago that the American ride sharing company embarked on an audacious journey to mobilise an autonomous fleet of Ubers in order to reap the full fare profits as opposed to sharing them with their current 1.5 million employed drivers.
The driving force behind this was of course a significant increase to the company’s current US$68 billion valuation. Fast forward to the present day and Uber have officially announced their first four autonomous driving vehicles in Pittsburgh.
The self-aware cars which come with advanced 3D cameras, GPS and a new creation the company calls “Lidar” will help guide the vehicles around obstacles. It’s essentially a bunch of lasers mounted on the car’s roof which measure the shape and distance of objects ahead for safe navigation.
The pilot program is just that at the moment, with two obsolete humans required to sit in the front seat to take over from the A.I when it’s not doing the job right. One person will grab the wheel to take over whilst the other monitors the computer software. To determine who’s driving, Uber has attached a light in the dash: Blue means human/manual driving, green mean your life is in the hands of an autonomous machine.
Uber even has the hailing part down to a basic tee with pick-up points for its autonomous fleet set within a designated boundary.
The first autonomous Uber riders will be able to trial the service in downtown Pittsburgh. There’s no news yet on when it will expand internationally.