When will the first driverless Uber cars hit London?
Continuing to focus on innovation and keeping taxi drivers around the world on their toes, Uber have announced via their blog, that they are testing self-driving cars, in the hope that one day their cars can be completely computer controlled. Uber has confirmed testing the hybrid Ford Fusion at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Centre in Pittsburgh, USA. With a variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions, plus engineering and research facilities, Pittsburgh has been the ideal environment to test their technology. The Ford Fusion comes outfitted with a variety of multiple cameras, lasers and sensors to map details as far as 100 meters in any direction.
Additionally, it has been announced that Toyota has also made a strategic investment in the company, largely focused on car-sharing, but with a clear long-term goal of collating their autonomous technology efforts.
Uber has hopped on board the ‘Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets’, with a selection of other companies like Google, Volvo and Ford, asking the government to change legislation for safety reasons. The advantages that would come through Uber using driverless cars in London would be based around safety. Uber stated it would have “the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world. 1.3m people die every year in car accidents and 94% of those accidents involve human error”.
Uber also claim there would be less congestion and cheaper, more accessible transport, which is easy to believe with less accidents on the roads. Authorities have been backing these sturdy sounding statistics, with their full support and encouragement.
There are still debates around the problems of this technology, though. The ethics of driverless cars is the big question, including how an autonomous car would act in an emergency, choosing the appropriate response to each scenario. And how would insurers decide who pays when an autonomous car inevitably has an accident? Although a UK based firm has just released the first insurance policy for a driverless car.
Additionally, this is a worrying development for traditional taxis, with the industry already fighting against Uber and legal cases filed against the company around the monopoly it is creating. But perhaps these legal issues would reduce without human drivers…
So with technology rapidly developing and people eager to try an autonomous car to get around the city, when can we experience driverless Uber’s in London? Unfortunately driverless cars won’t be hitting the road anytime soon. Testing is still underway, trained drivers are on board to monitor the vehicle, and road legislation needs to be changed before any vehicles would be permitted on public roads, so there’s a long way to go!