Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Are Coming On The Road. Now.

uberlogoThe world of self-driving cars seems to be approaching faster than anyone could have ever imagined. One huge milestone was announced by Uber this week that released a statement saying that a pilot program in Pittsburgh was about to go live later this month where some of its customers would get picked up by a self-driving car to be driven to their destinations.

These cars will still have a driver at the wheel and a co-pilot to take down any notes of interest as they happen. The driver will also be required to take control under pre-decided conditions like when the car is on a bridge or whenever a warning signal chimes.

These rides would be offered free to the customers and a tablet with information regarding the pilot program going on would be given to them to help them understand what is going on.

Uber has surprised everyone by jumping ahead to real world pilot trials so early and indicate that the time when all of us will be able to hail a taxi with just the touch of a button is not far away. Volvo will be providing the cars for this program and have revealed that they have a signed a $300 million deal with the ride-sharing company to develop fully autonomous cars by 2021.

If that timeline seems a little ambitious to you then think again, since Ford too has set itself the same goal.

The only question now is whether regulations will be able to keep pace with the speed at which self-driving cars are approaching the general public. Currently, Tesla is in the middle of an investigation regarding its Autopilot related death earlier this year and Google is fighting a behind the scenes war to try and get approval for Level 4 autonomous cars to be tested with more freedom on the roads.

While the road for customers may be exciting ahead, over one million of drivers currently working with Uber will be worried that their jobs might be soon obsolete. It remains to be seen whether the company or any other transportation company has a plan for the drivers that will be laid off.

Experts are also worried about the ‘transitions phase’ so as to speak where large numbers of driverless cars will be on the roads at the same time as human-driven cars. Most of the accidents that the self-driving cars have been up until now have been due to the difficult human drivers have had in negotiating these cars on the roads.

Of course, these pilot programs are designed to iron out all these flaws before we start seeing large scale deployment of this technology on public roads. The only thing for sure is that it won’t be too far into the future.

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