While we don’t have flying cars yet, self-driving cars have sped their way into Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and don’t plan on stopping there.
Uber has partnered with the University of Arizona and Toyota to develop and produce self-driving technology. Now the question is, would people actually feel safe getting into a car with no driver? It’s kind of scary thinking about putting a machine in charge of getting you from point A to point B without someone in control of it. What would happen to the 150,000+ drivers that use Uber as their platform?
As if Uber drivers didn’t have it rough enough, now with the move from human driven cars to self-driving cars, their jobs could be at jeopardy. Harry Campbell, a blogger and an occasional Uber driver expressed how he finds the idea of self-driving cars taking the place of actual drivers unpleasant. “It feels weird because you know at some point in the future you won’t have a job, you just don’t know when,” Campbell said.
Many of us have used Uber at some point, but we don’t really know much about what it is like to be an Uber driver. Aside from driving people around, Uber drivers are in charge of paying for the gas and the maintenance of their vehicles.
Each ride the Uber driver gives is a different sale that they make commission off of. Uber takes 20 percent of the sale and the driver takes 80 percent. In Los Angeles, an Uber driver makes on average 17 dollars an hour, which, when you think about it, isn’t really a lot for someone who gives lifts to drunk people.
Uber is a business whose sole function is to make money, so if there is a way for Uber to take 100 percent of the profits instead of 20 percent, of course they will take that leap. However, most reports say that a complete jump to self-driving cars will not happen for a good ten years.
While self-driving cars may not be taking over anytime soon, there are already models out and test drives en route. I personally would not be eager to be a passenger in the self-driving models. The technology is still fairly new.
The cars will rely on landmarks to determine where they are. It would essentially be similar technology to the GPS on your phone, but with your phone taking the wheel.
As of right now Business Insider has reported that the self-driving vehicles cannot handle the reality of the road. Since these vehicles will be sharing the road with human drivers they need to be able to react quickly, because as I’m sure we all know a lot of people out on the road are not the greatest drivers.
The vehicles also have difficulty detecting bridges. When an object appears directly in front of them, such as, a duck, when the duck disappears the car is unsure whether or not it should proceed.
The most crucial thing that these cars are having difficulty with is being able to operate under extreme weather conditions. In January, Ford began working to ensure the vehicles would be able to withstand snowy weather. According to Business Insider, the problem with snow is that it covers the car’s sensors making it difficult for it to identify objects around it.
For the time being, the vehicles that are already out on the streets of Pittsburgh still have human engineers to take over when they act out, as all the issues that have yet to be figured out. Wired reporter Alex Davies took a ride in one of these new cars and explained that, for the most part, it was the human engineer driving, not the car itself.
“[The driver is] not happy with how long the car is waiting before slowing for a pedestrian,” Davies said. “[The driver] manually steered around a double parked truck, knowing the system will just stop and wait for it to move.”
What has always been great about Uber is that it ensures a sober person will be able to drive you home safely, this is especially relevant toparty crazed college students. If Uber replaces all drivers with self-driving cars, but with your phone taking the wheel, I’m not sure that it will be safe for intoxicated young adults to get in a car. Even if they do fix the problems the cars are having now, that won’t guarantee that there won’t be more somewhere down the road.
People should have the right to decide who or what will drive them home. While technological advances are great, I hope that Uber will allow people to have the option to choose whether they want an actual person to drive them home or not. As a driver myself, I am not ready to share the road with a car that has no driver.
We’ve been taught all of our lives not to get into the car of a stranger, however I would find it more unsettling if a 3,000 pound machine had me and my peers lives in its hands — or whatever the equivalent of hands for a car would be... its tires.