It all starts with a politician. That is, Governor Doug Ducey of Arizona enjoyed the first official driverless ride in Uber’s self-driving Volvo XC90 in Tempe, Arizona. With that, you and I can hail a self-driving car for our travels, as long as we’re in Tempe, for now.
Arizona opened its arms to tech companies and Uber’s self-driving efforts after California and Uber failed to see eye-to-eye on regulations. Now, 16 sensor equipped SUVs are scooting around Tempe, with expansion to more cities in Arizona coming soon.
Taking away a little bit of the fun, but adding an expected level of safety, your ride will be accompanied by an Uber technician or two. A human will remain in place to take over if the AI hiccups.
With the ultimate goal of rolling out totally autonomous vehicles to their fleet, as evidenced by a recent Mercedes-Benz deal, we are still looking at the development stages here. Riders today are part of real world testing of the vehicles and systems. That’s what that second Uber technician is on-board for, analysis of the car.
For those uncomfortable with the experience, the human driver fueled ride-sharing service is continuing as normal. While we will likely see clashes between drivers and Uber as self-driving cars threaten their jobs, we hope this does not interfere with the advancements of autonomous automobile efforts. Hopefully there will be no more red light incidents to report.
Would you ride in a self-driving Uber car today?