Image: YouTube @ Uber
The future – right now – is sitting on top of a Ford Fusion in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where Uber's Advanced Technology Centre is making driverless cars a reality. As of September 14, Uber has released its Self-Driving Uber onto the market. According to its site, if a Self-Driving Uber is available, Uber will send it along with a safety driver up front to make sure the ride goes smoothly. Otherwise it’s uberX as usual. The program is on the public trial stage.
According to NYTimes.com
reporter Mike Isaac:
"Uber has outfitted it with more than 20 cameras, seven lasers, a spinning 360-degree laser-based detection system and 1,400 other aftermarket parts that render millions of bits of data about the environment in real time as I drive through it."
In the report, he states how a safety engineer easily takes control of the car if he thinks things are getting dicey and a big red button on the centre console can be pressed at anytime to disengage self-driving.
What does it mean for Uber drivers now?
Just like ATMs that removed bank-tellers and self-checkout counters that eliminate cashiers, drivers will soon be a thing of the past. In it's place – Uber hopes
– are more engineers and mechanics who will maintain the equipment in cars. With the proliferation of computers and sensors needed to power the driverless dream, more manpower will be needed to create more sophisticated equipment, which means better paying jobs for the masses.
Automakers from Ford to Fiat to Uber and Lyft say that driverless cars will be in the mainstream in the next five years but it's a bold claim. So if you're reading this and you're a driver of some sort, perhaps take up a course in automotive engineering and get hired by Uber again as their mechanic.
There is a video for the Self-Driving Uber but it's unlisted. If you'd like to view it, here's the link