Uber Sharply Lags Competition in Self-Driving Progress
Uber, one of the dominant ride-hailing companies in the United States and the company is well known for asking forgiveness than permissions. In many cities the San Francisco-based company started to proceed with their operations without asking required permissions from the local regulators. As the company grew popular, the states began to legalize the app-based ride-hailing companies. This helped Uber to survive in more than 45 cities.
Now, Uber has started to develop the self-driving cars. It is the long-term goal of Uber to build the fleet of vehicles that doesn’t require the driver to control them. Now, the company is busy in testing its self-driving cars.
Technology and transportation analysts said that the thing that worked on Uber’s war with taxis, will not work with the war with the drivers. The Motor Vehicles Department of California demanded Uber to cease its self-driving car program in California or the company has to face the legal action. Uber’s self-driving program uses Volvos and those cars are equipped with the self-driving technology. As of now, these cars have the driver inside the car and the driver will take control of the car in case of any emergency situations. After few years, the company tries to take off the driver inside the car.
Brian Soublet, the deputy director of DMV and the chief counsel said that the company is following the state’s rules and it continues to do the illegal activities. The company is operating its self-driving fleet without holding the autonomous test permit. DMV addressed this letter to Anthony Levandowski, the head of the Uber’s Advanced Technology Center.
Uber didn’t respond to the DMV’s mail till next day afternoon. A DMV spokesperson said that the Uber didn’t immediately respond to their letter. But, on the company’s website Levandowski said that he believed that Uber didn’t require such permits and he also said that Uber’s self-driving cars are at its early stages and they are operating with the help of the driver support at the emergency situations, so, on the whole, the driver will be sitting inside the car and they are not in the fully autonomous mode.
Some media reported that Uber’s cars were on the road even after the DMV’s letter. Some analysts say that this attitude is not new for Uber; they have noted that the company will implement things before getting permission from the required authorities. This strategy is familiar to the technology companies like Facebook. They consider it as pride, they break the rules and introduce their products and later they will face the opposition. Uber has faced many issues and oppositions in the aspect of self-driving cars that its trouble for the taxi industry.
Otto- Uber’s acquisition
Otto, the self-driving truck startup was acquired by Uber in August 2016; this acquisition was made for $680 million. Otto was founded by Levandowski; the company has released a video showing their trucks were traveling in the fully autonomous mode and there is no driver inside the car. At that time, DMV issued the warning that the trucks would be violating the California’s autonomous vehicle regulations.
The race for the self-driving technology has become hotter. Tesla has announced that it would develop the complete autonomous vehicle by the end of 2017. Ford also said that it will release its fully autonomous cars with no steering wheel and no driver required inside the car, they are going to accomplish this by the end of 2021. And many car makers and the tech companies have joined this race of developing the self-driving vehicles.
The autonomous cars are just the one part of the coin, autonomous trucking is about to cause major changes to the trucking industry. And this will create a big impact on the jobs.
So in this aspect, why Otto is important for Uber, Otto is under the process of developing the technology for the autonomous trucks, Otto has achieved its first success in the year 2016. Otto has developed a beer gun; it was used for shipping a load of 50,000 Budweisers, it travelled 120 miles across Colorado. The driver simply pressed the engage button on the highway and the truck operated in the fully autonomous mode that is at the level 4 autonomy. It maintained this level 4 autonomy from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.
Once this technology gets matured, many businesses could take advantage of the autonomous trucks. Particularly, it will be useful for the long-haul shipping.
Fully about Uber’s autonomous cars
All the Uber’s autonomous cars are Ford Fusions, some of them were black and some were white with Uber seal stamped on the side. The self-driving cars were equipped with 20 cameras, seven lasers, and rooftop mounted Global Positioning System (GPS). And the company started the testing of these cars in Pittsburgh.
Inside, the cars were ordinary, they had two fewer cup holders, it can accommodate two extra buttons in the center console. You can’t open the moonroof of the vehicle as the equipment is mounted on the top. Fans whirls continuously on the trunk and it will cool the extra machinery.
As of September 2016, about 1000 selected Uber customers may find their replies for the ride requests in the self-driving cars; this is the situation in the Steel City. Uber has put four of its self-driving vehicles on the roads for testing with the customers. And it is about to launch 11 of its autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh. Further, the company has planned to add about 100 Volvo SUVs to its autonomous fleet.
Testing of self-driving cars
The question that strikes in everybody’s mind is that whether the cities are ready for the autonomous rides, and that remains unclear.
Hailing the Uber’s self-driving ride was similar to hailing a normal ride with Uber. The customers can open the app, book the car, and wait for the car to reach the user’s location. At the end of the trip, the riders are requested to rate the trip and they can also give feedback. The only difference is that the app will not the name of the driver, instead, it will have self-driving Uber option.
Now, the self-driving cars have two Uber engineers inside the car, the engineers will be seated in front, and they will take control of the car if they found something bad is about to happen. And people in the control room will be monitoring the direction of the car. And if they notice any misbehavior of the car, the control room people will notify the engineer inside the car. After that, the engineer will take the concerned action. Now, the cars don’t operate in the complete autonomous mode. The era of fully-autonomous cars is just near.
All the auto giants and the tech companies are involved in this process of developing the complete autonomous cars.
In the backseat of the car, there will be a touch screen and that will convey the direction of the self-driving car to the passengers who is inside the car. It will also display the car’s current speed and the next moves which the car is about to take. For example, when the car has approached a stop sign, the display will show that the car has planned to brake.
All the tech companies and the automakers are planning for the safe and successful launch of the self-driving cars. Hope the era will arrive soon.
Andrew Shah is the Digital marketing Manager of Zoplay. He is a writer and coffee lover. He has is a graduate in Computer Science and Post Graduate in Entrepreneurship and leadership from Ulyanovsk State University, Russia. He is a passionate blogger & SEO Specialist. Zoplay is a Software Development company which has launched Dectar Handy which is a uber for x handy for all with Android and iOS apps.