It’s always fun to speculate and think about things that could one day be. People do it all the time with automation. We talk about how one day robots could be doing all of the jobs that people once did. We estimate the likelihood of jobs becoming automated. We think about what cab drivers and baristas will be doing when machines start gunning for their jobs. But until those things actually happen, it’s all conjecture. Well, those cabbies can stop thinking in terms of if and when, because automated taxis are a reality right now.
Uber has become a popular and affordable alternative to traditional taxis over the past few years. The convenient app lets you hire a driver and pay for your ride directly from your phone. You can even check the background on your driver. But if you hail an Uber in Pittsburgh later this month, you might not have a driver at all.
IEEE Spectrum posted an article stating that Uber will soon test out driverless service using autonomous vehicles. Uber is collaborating with Volvo on mapping technology, purchased Otto – a startup that makes self-driving vehicles for transport – and is working with Ford, who wants to deliver truly self-driving vehicles to the market in the next 5 years. In other words, Uber is making autonomous vehicles a reality.
But don’t expect a completely unmanned vehicle to pick you up in Pittsburgh. Even though the cars will technically drive themselves, they won’t show up empty at your front door. According to ABC News, these vehicles will have a human sitting behind the wheel just in case of emergency.
At the moment, Uber does not have plans to bring automated taxis to any other cities. But there’s no telling what might happen if these tests go well. It seems like it’s only a matter of time before truly autonomous vehicles will be cruising public roads.