Posted on August 19, 2016 by staff

Uber ‘to launch self-driving taxis imminently’


The first self-driving taxi service is set to launch later this month.

Mobile taxi app Uber will roll out new self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, following a $300 million (£228m) deal with car giant Volvo.

Reports claim that the service will become available from the end of August in Pittsburgh. There is currently no news on whether driverless taxis will come to the UK anytime soon.

Initially, journeys made in driverless cars will be free – as opposed to the usual rate of $1.30 (99p) a mile.

Uber has recently predicted that in the long term, it will be cheaper to use the app for transport than owning a car.

The launch marks the first time customers will be put in driverless cars, and follows Ford’s announcement of plans for an autonomous ride sharing service earlier this year.

Uber’s fleet will be made up of modified Volvo XC90 SUVs that respond to roads and traffic via sensors using cameras, lasers, GPS receivers and radar.

There will, however, be an emergency human driver in every vehicle. An additional co-pilot will take notes in the passenger seat, and the ride will also be recorded by cameras to note any issues.

Passengers will be told what’s happening via a laptop installed in the back seat. These measures will be implemented during the testing phase, but Uber plans to eradicate the need for a human driver on standby.

Volvo is expected to provide 100 of the modified vehicles by the end of the year.

Travis Kalanick, Uber’s chief executive, said: “If Uber wants to catch up to Google and be the leader in autonomy, we have to have the best minds.

“Volvo is a leader in vehicle development and best-in-class when it comes to safety.

“By combining the capabilities of Uber and Volvo we will get to the future faster, together.”

Uber, Netflix, Skype, Spotify, WhatsApp and Airbnb are perfect examples of tech companies that have driven a coach and horses through their respective industries.

Which sectors are ripe for disruption next?

BusinessCloud will be asking that question at our ‘meet the disrupters’ event in Manchester on September 15th.