Next time you hail an Uber in Pittsburgh, you might end up riding in a machine-run vehicle! In August, NPR reported on Uber's plan to run an experiment in Pittsburgh, where it will test the first-ever self-driving fleet that's available to everyday customers.
For safety purposes, an Uber staff member (an engineer or specially trained driver) will be inside, acting as a human "co-pilot." So technically, it's not a car without a human.

In fact, for the time being, a human co-pilot is a necessity. Some experts put autonomous self-driving technology at 10 years away; others as many as 60. In a recent essay in Scientific American, Engineer Steve Shladover argues the industry has big hurdles to overcome to get self-driving cars to be as safe as human drivers.

Factors such as windy roads, inclement weather, changing road surfaces, crossing guards, emergency vehicles and pedestrians all throw a wrench into current self-driving technology. And of course, for insurance companies: how do you insure a computer? (Especially when fatal computer errors are possible.)

And of course, there's the whole "computers-replacing-people" factor. Currently, Uber has 1.5 million drivers worldwide -- 600,000 in the U.S. alone. What happens to all these drivers?  According to Uber, self-driving cars are a ways away; for now, a hybrid vehicle that is self-driving, but also needs a human, will be the likely next step. And, for tough routes (e.g., winding country roads), a self-driving car is not likely to win unless technology significantly improves.

What do you think? Would you trust the self-driving Uber?

For more on self-driving cars, check out: Some Thoughts on Self-Driving Cars and Self-Driving Cars: An Update.

Sources: NPR, Uber to Roll Out Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh | NPR, After Deadly Crash, Safety Officials Will Examine Tesla's Autopilot Mode | Scientific American, What "Self-Driving" Cars Will Really Look Like.

Photo Credit: Aaron Parecki.
Share |

No Comments

Post a Comment
Required (Not Displayed)

All comments are moderated and stripped of HTML.
Submission Validation
Change the CAPTCHA codeSpeak the CAPTCHA code
Enter the Validation Code from above.
NOTICE: This blog and website are made available by the publisher for educational and informational purposes only. It is not be used as a substitute for competent insurance, legal, or tax advice from a licensed professional in your state. By using this blog site you understand that there is no broker client relationship between you and the blog and website publisher.
Blog Archive

View Mobile Version