Since its inception, Uber has become an easy way for people to get home who may otherwise drive drunk. However, those rides can be pretty pricey, depending on when they are needed. Now, Uber is looking to cut down those costs and make rides safer by introducing self-driving cars into their fleet. The first test of automated cars started on September 14 in Pittsburgh.While this shift away from human drivers has been met with some resistance — namely, Uber drivers who rely on providing this service to make a living — it has overall been hailed as a push toward the future. However, Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has said the transition could take decades to complete. By that time, we could all have self-driving cars in our garages. Plus, Uber will still need operators to take over, should something go wrong with the car’s computer systems (however unlikely). One thing is for sure: With self-driving cars becoming more prominent, DUI accidents could drop dramatically.
The Benefits of Automated Cars
Uber has a few qualifications that must be met before a driver can come aboard. Namely, they must be a safe driver, and they must have a safe car. But even a driver with a completely clean record who owns a car with every safety feature on the market can make a mistake. This becomes especially true late at night when people who have been drinking need a ride home most often. Drivers may be weary, and may not react quickly enough to obstacles in the road or poor weather conditions.
Self-driving cars, on the other hand, don’t deal with the human side of being tired. They incorporate a system of sensors that react to road conditions, pedestrians, traffic and other potential hazards. These sensors send signals to an onboard computer system, which reacts much quicker than a human could ever hope to do. This means safer rides for others on the road and the passengers themselves, as just about every accident involving an automated car was due to the driver of a different vehicle hitting it.
Uber’s New Fleet
So far, Uber has put four self-driving cars on the road: Ford Fusions retrofitted with self-driving technology. However, if these current test goes well, they have about a hundred Volvo XC90s ready to go. This presents a new milestone for Uber, as it’s the first time they have purchased vehicles of their own. Traditionally, drivers provide their own vehicles. This allowed Uber to essentially treat each driver as a contractor, avoiding paying for healthcare and other costs.
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of this new era for Uber is for the company itself. The current business structure allows drivers to keep a large portion of each fare, with Uber getting a cut of anywhere from 15 to 40 percent. Besides operational costs, like gas, maintenance and insurance, driverless cars are virtually pure profit machines.
Whether with a driverless car or otherwise, Uber is a great way to get home after a night of drinking. However, if you have made the decision to drive yourself home and get caught for drunk driving, you don’t have to face the consequences alone.
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