Uber’s Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Ridesharing

SAN FRANCISCO CA/USA - JULY 30 2017: Uber world headquarters entrance and logo. Uber Technologies Inc. is an American technology company.

Anyone working for Uber and Lyft should be keeping a close eye on autonomous vehicles. The industry is going to change, and there may not be a future for you any longer. Chances are, there will be a time when you look over, and all you see is a vehicle driving itself.

But how close is the technology to becoming a major problem in ridesharing?


Uber just announced in November that the company plans to purchase 24,000 autonomous SUVs from Volvo.

What Does the Purchase Mean for Uber Drivers?

Not much – yet. The company is trying to move in the direction of Waymo and Lyft, which are both trying to remove their “freelance drivers” from the road. It makes sense for Uber because they can own their own fleet of autonomous vehicles and reap all of the profits.

The deal spans between 2019 and 2021, where Volvo will provide up to 24,000 XC90 SUVs to Uber.

Uber plans to provide its own self-driving system for the vehicles, but the problem is that the self-driving system has yet to be built. The system remains under development. Waymo, on the other hand, announced that they’ll introduce a fully autonomous car service in the next few months. The service will operate out of Arizona.

Autonomous vehicles are bad for freelance drivers, but it’s also slated to reduce accidents and may even prevent them completely in the future.

In Las Vegas, Nevada, people are questioning the safety of self-driving vehicles after a self-driving shuttle got into an accident. “There are roughly 55,000 car accidents every year in Nevada,” claims injury attorney George Bochanis on his site. But news headlines were filled with stories of the self-driving shuttle, which crashed the same day it was deployed.

The crash occurred due to human error, but that failed to make many headlines.

Society’s Adoption of Autonomous Vehicles

Society will dictate whether autonomous vehicles make it on the road or not. Initially, a lot of ridesharing customers may be reluctant to get into a vehicle that doesn’t have a driver behind the seat.

The lack of human interaction may spell trouble for Uber, which has a lot of colorful freelancers that make driving with the company fun.

Uber’s main issue, aside from losing $600 million per quarter, is that the state of the industry still requires a driver to remain behind the seat of the vehicle. Safety drivers are still in the front seat of Uber’s self-driving vehicles that are being tested in Arizona and Pittsburgh.

Uber’s self-driving technology has also been ranked the worst out of all six major self-driving companies.

A study found that the company’s technology is 5,000 times worse than Waymo’s technology. The study states that the safety driver had to intervene once per mile compared to Waymo’s technology, which can drive over 5,000 without intervention.

So, freelance drivers can rest assured that Uber has a long way to go before their own fleet will reduce the number of freelance opportunities with the company.

Uber’s financial state, which is currently a mess, is also not sufficient enough to cover the amount of self-driving vehicles the company would need to replace freelance drivers.

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Uber’s Autonomous Vehicles and the Future of Ridesharing