For its first generation of self-driving cars, Uber partnered with automakers Ford and Volvo, and used the driving technology that it has developed itself on cars that it now owns. The transportation network company has now made a deal with Daimler AG to add the company’s Mercedes-Benz autonomous vehicles to the Uber fleet once they’re ready.
It’s no secret that ride-hailing apps like Uber are investing in driverless technology so they’ll be able to rely on human drivers less in the future. Humans have unfortunate habits of sleeping, eating, and using the restroom. Worse, some drivers have also been known to illegally discriminate against passengers, file lawsuits, assault passengers, and go on strike. Some of those things are objectively bad and others are just bad if you’re Uber, but relying less on human drivers is helpful either way.
The company also tries to give the driverless future a halo of safety and eco-friendliness: CEO Travis Kalanick predicts fewer cars sitting idle on paved parking lots and fewer accidents in the future when we’re able to hail roving autonomous cars instead of owning our own.
Uber’s current autonomous fleet consists of hybrid Ford Focus cars in Pittsburgh, and Volvo SUVs in Arizona that started out in San Francisco until the state DMV objected. The difference with the Daimler program is that Uber owns its current self-driving fleet, using its own driving technology and developing the cars with Ford and with Volvo. The Daimler cars will not belong to Uber, and will use Daimler’s own self-driving technology.
Instead, they’ll be part of an open platform where automakers sign their vehicles up to be part of Uber’s network. Now drivers sign up with the cars that they own or lease: in the future, automakers could sign up with their own driverless fleets.
There’s no date announced yet for when the Daimler cars will begin hitting the roads, and Uber also didn’t announce the financial arrangements.
Source: Consumer Reviews