Uber think so. Uber, who made their name by harnessing mobile technology to turn the taxi / minicab world on its head are planning their big next step. According to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick 'the reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car'.
Taxi app Uber is taking its biggest steps yet towards a driver-free world, launching the Uber Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh “to do research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology”.
It’s a massive investment in the future from a company still primarily associated with the development of its app and associated back-end technology, but it’s one that Uber has been hinting at for a long time. The company is keenly aware that the majority of the cost of a journey comes from the driver’s salary, and has been eyeing up driverless cars as a potential saviour.
In May 2014, Uber’s chief executive, Travis Kalanick, told Code conference that “the reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car.
“When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away.”
Uber is likely not the only transportation provider looking at the prospect of firing its staff and replacing them with robots, but it is one of the few prepared to articulate that desire.