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Uber Enters Race to Perfect Driverless Vehicle Technology

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Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service.

According to a statement by the company posted online yesterday, the initial testing phase is being conducted on the streets of Pittsburgh, using a hybrid Ford Fusion fitted with various sensors including radar, laser scanners and cameras.


The test vehicle from Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) collects mapping data as it travels, while a trained driver monitors operations in the car at all times.

The driverless project is being carried out in partnership with Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. Uber says it is pursuing the goal of inducting autonomous vehicles into its fleet by 2020.
Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world.  1.3 million people die every year in car accidents -- 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber's mission to make transportation as reliable as running water -- everywhere and for everyone.
Uber joins an accelerating industry race for the mainstream introduction of self-driving cars, with Tesla already developing the technology and multiple Chinese firms also making headway.

There have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles for its own car project, codenamed "Titan", but sources say the first car it releases will not be driverless, with that functionality perhaps coming at a later date.

Article Link: Uber Enters Race to Perfect Driverless Vehicle Technology
 

2457282

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The day is coming and it will probably be a good thing. However, I am not sure how will react when an Uber pulls up to pick me up and there is no one inside.
 
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Sandstorm

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Sep 27, 2011
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Exciting times to be alive and witness all of this. I can remember me as a kid, fantasizing about autonomous cars (probably influenced by shows like Knight rider), but I seriously didn't expect it to happen for real, or at least in my lifetime. And we're almost there. It's really happening. Awesome!
 
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Mactendo

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Oct 3, 2012
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I can imagine the day when you'll be able to call a driverless taxi and it will take you whereever you want without a driver inside. To us, the first adopters, this will be so eerie.

But our grandkids will wonder:
What? You want to drive a car yourself? Are you crazy?!
 
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JohnApples

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Mar 7, 2014
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But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.
 
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mw360

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I wonder how well they'll drive. An organisation that size could make a billion dollars by tweaking the driving code towards more or less aggression on the roads. They probably already have massive amount of data to help compare driving style with profitability.

It will be interesting if the roads of the future just become a tactical battleground for car-coders pushing their branded driving styles as products - "safe" for families, or "efficient" for business, or "confident", a euphemism for "arrogant jerk". Or whether certain brands will produce cars which drive the way their owners would typically prefer. Will we ever see the proud unveiling of the new Audi ***hole with 'Late Cut-In Technology' and 'Automatic Two Space Parking'?
 
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makr

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Feb 16, 2016
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But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.
Maybe they can automatically drive to some fill up stations uber make an agreement for filling up and bill to them
 
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coolfactor

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I find this surreal. How do they deal with things like flat tires and drive ways at houses? I mean, when the driverless pizza delivery arrives, will I need to walk 30 feet in the snow to get the pizza? Oh wait, that's where drones come in... a drone will launch from the roof of the vehicle and bring the pizza directly to me. No wait, that's where the pizza place will "beam" the pizza directly onto my dining room table without the need for any vehicles. Vehicles will be so passé. /sarcasm
 
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JohnApples

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Maybe they can automatically drive to some fill up stations uber make an agreement for filling up and bill to them
I was thinking that, but then they need an infrastructure for gas stations/charging stations with pumps/plugs that can automatically insert itself into the car. Just an overall complicated scenario!
 
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Three141

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Could see this one coming a mile off
[doublepost=1463750128][/doublepost]
I was thinking that, but then they need an infrastructure for gas stations/charging stations with pumps/plugs that can automatically insert itself into the car. Just an overall complicated scenario!

My view is different the auto industry as a whole needs to pull together for wireless charging ditching plug all together, this will allow 'charging bays' for cars to easily change. Think Taxi rank in the UK
 
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LordQ

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We all know Q is supplying all the Uber drivers this cellphone:

 
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mw360

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But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.

I suspect Uber won't own any cars. They'll get their 'contractors' to own and maintain the cars, fuelling them up, cleaning them etc. Like it is now.
 
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JonnyBlaze

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May 5, 2008
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But how would Uber's automatic-driving cars fuel up/charge up? Either they have to pass that responsibility onto the customer, or have the car drive back to Uber employees/volunteers to fill up in between rides.

Inductive charging could work. Bot driver just has to park in the right space to charge. This solution is available now, so further down the line should be everywhere and easy... I hope!
 
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theluggage

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I was thinking that, but then they need an infrastructure for gas stations/charging stations with pumps/plugs that can automatically insert itself into the car. Just an overall complicated scenario!

...or a human being at the gas station can, for a small consideration, fill up the car and charge it to the Uber account.

Meanwhile, I'm already seeing pop-up adds for wireless charging solutions for Teslas...

I find this surreal. How do they deal with things like flat tires and drive ways at houses?

Flat tyre? Do what an increasing proportion of human drivers do: utter a few profanities and call the rescue service. The self-driving car will save unnecessary wear and tear on profanities. Have you not noticed that more and more cars come with run-flat tyres and no spare wheel?

Driveways & pizza deliveries: if all else fails, put a delivery person in the car. The difference is that, instead of needing to be a reasonably safe driver with a clean-is record , now, they only need to be capable of walking up a driveway and the training & safety induction only has to cover "leave your beer in the car, put out your joint and take a breath mint before ringing doorbell".
 
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Rogifan

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Nov 14, 2011
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This shouldn't surprise anyone, smart move by Uber. They're proving to be a very smart and forward-thinking company, way more than just a cheap taxi alternative.
Wait, so everyone questions what business Apple has getting into this space (what do they know about cars) but not Uber? Is someone else going to be providing the self driving cars for them?
 
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thebeans

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Feb 9, 2009
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Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service.

According to a statement by the company posted online yesterday, the initial testing phase is being conducted on the streets of Pittsburgh, using a hybrid Ford Fusion fitted with various sensors including radar, laser scanners and cameras.


The test vehicle from Uber's Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) collects mapping data as it travels, while a trained driver monitors operations in the car at all times.

The driverless project is being carried out in partnership with Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University. Uber says it is pursuing the goal of inducting autonomous vehicles into its fleet by 2020.
Uber joins an accelarating industry race for the mainstream introduction of self-driving cars, with Tesla already developing the technology and multiple Chinese firms also making headway.

There have been indications suggesting Apple is exploring autonomous vehicles for its own car project, codenamed "Titan", but sources say the first car it releases will not be driverless, with that functionality perhaps coming at a later date.

Article Link: Uber Enters Race to Perfect Driverless Vehicle Technology
This is all great stuff and I'm all for advancing technology. But I wonder how the various companies will handle it the first time one of their vehicles causes a serious crash or runs over a child or something. They may be better / safer than human drivers but there will still be an uproar the first time something bad happens. Will the technology survive the learning curve and inevitable accidents or will the masses rebel when people are killed by driverless cars?
 
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macduke

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Jun 27, 2007
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Uber has announced it is currently testing self-driving car technology with a view to completely remove the need for drivers from its ride-hailing service.

I'm sure their drivers love to hear this. Could you imagine working for a company that was actively working towards a goal of getting rid of about 99% of their workforce? I'm all for progress, but that would make me feel really weird.

According to this quote from the Washington Post:

The analysis also reveals for the first time the size of Uber’s driver pool in the United States and the rapid rate at which it’s expanding. In December, 162,037 “active drivers” completed at least four or more trips for the service. The number of new drivers signing up has doubled every six months for the past two years.

That's going to be a lot of people to lay off several years down the road, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. According to the website All Trucking:

There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association. The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million.

So that's a lot more people who will be eventually replaced. See this story about semi-autonomous trucks driving across Europe to get a glimpse of where things are headed. Then there are other jobs to consider: Postal and package delivery drivers, bus drivers, chauffers, maybe even tow truck drivers and more. Then you have tertiary industries, such as automotive insurance, which could eventually no longer be needed or at least have a very reduced role. That means adjusters, agents, managers, call centers and more jobs would be no longer needed, or have a severe reduction in number of positions. The reduction in accidents would also mean that auto mechanics would have a reduced role in society, especially for collision repair. This also means that fewer auto parts would need to be made, which impacts other industries, and could make auto repair in general more costly. You would also need fewer patrol officers, and cities would get less income from speeding tickets, parking tickets, and more—which is, perhaps surprising to some, a big part of many city budgets.

And I'm not even touching on the job impacts of a move from oil to electric.

To reiterate, I'm all for progress, and am in no way saying that these changes are bad. I'm all for a more efficient system that makes life easier and is better for the environment. But I just hope that organizational think tanks and governing bodies are acting now to research the impacts that this will have on our economy and the employment outlook, because this is going to be a tremendous period of transformation affecting many fundamental aspects of our society. And yet again, I'm not even touching on the privacy aspects revolving around government surveillance, the law aspects for whose fault an unlikely accident would be, and more. That's a whole other can of worms. It's really incredible how much change this will bring. It's an exciting time to be alive, but change can be difficult, especially when it has the potential to be this disruptive. But I'm hopeful our society will eventually benefit greatly from these improvements. The potential to greatly empower the elderly, people with disabilities and more with easy access to transportation will be fantastic, as well as the reduction in automobile deaths and pollution from energy efficient autonomous driving.
 
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