In the world of technology, few companies are on so many people’s radars as Uber. The company’s business model has been well-received despite major opposition from some countries and concerns over driver wages. Despite all that, the company recently announced it is buying tens of thousands of self-driving cars. It’s an interesting decision on the part of this particular company, to say the very least.
Self-driving Cars for Uber?
Considering how Uber is best known as a company that allows anyone with a car to earn money driving others around, its venture into self-driving vehicles seems rather odd. At the same time, Uber must go with the flow, and paying attention to innovative technological concepts is in its best interest. No one can deny that autonomous vehicles are growing in popularity, and it makes sense for this company to focus its attention on that particular emerging market.
The big question is whether or not these autonomous vehicles will make life more difficult for normal human drivers, though the obvious answer seems “yes”. Considering that Uber plans to buy tens of thousands of cars from Volvo, some big changes are to be expected. Surprisingly, these cars are all SUVs, which aren’t exactly “traditional” Uber vehicles by any means.
Once these new cars are deployed – a process scheduled to start in 2018 and finish by 2021 – the company will outfit them with its own sensors and technology, including proprietary software. The specific capacity in which these autonomous vehicles will be used remains to be seen. It is also worth noting that these cars will not have human drivers on standby behind the wheel, as they are designed to be completely autonomous.
With around 24,000 of these vehicles scheduled to be delivered to Uber, an interesting future lies ahead. This massive investment – projected at well over US$1 billion – is one of the bigger expenses the company has made in recent years. Especially since no one outside the company knows how these SUVs will be deployed exactly, it remains uncertain how this money can be earned back in the years to come. Assuming the vehicles replace human drivers, it shouldn’t be much of a problem whatsoever.
It is a well-known fact that Uber has been experimenting with autonomous vehicles for some time now. More specifically, it has been running trials with the Volvo XC90 SUV throughout the United States. Right now, most of these trials are taking place in Arizona, after the company was “ejected” from California due to its failure to apply for an official autonomous vehicle testing license. That was a very interesting development, as it indicated the US may soon become a proverbial war zone when it comes to autonomous vehicles and their specific requirements.
Every week, it becomes more and more evident that the car industry will undergo major changes. The era of human drivers is slowly coming to an end, although no major shift is expected to take place in the next decade or so. That being said, most major manufacturers will bring their autonomous vehicles to market before 2022. The next few years will be very exciting for this industry; that much is certain.