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Tech by VICE

Your Next Uber Driver Might Be a Robot

Later this month, Uber will randomly assign riders in Pittsburgh with one of its self-driving Volvo SUV prototypes.

by VICE Staff
Aug 18 2016, 2:41pm

Uber announced Thursday that it will be unrolling a fleet of self-driving cars to pick people up all over Pittsburgh later this month, leaving its drivers' hands free to deal with drunk, annoying passengers or take a quick nap.

In an apparent attempt to eventually rid itself of all human drivers, Bloomberg reports that the ride-sharing company will start testing the self-driving waters by assigning Uber riders at random with one of its custom autonomous Volvo XC90 SUVs.

For the time being, drivers will still sit up front to engage in small talk and ensure that the operation doesn't fail miserably, while cameras and sensors built into the car track the whole journey.

Rather than develop its own fleet of self-driving cars—like Tesla and Google have tried to do—Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said the company will instead focus on ironing out the feature's programming kinks. (Just last May, a driver died in an accident while his Tesla car was in autopilot mode.)

"Nobody has set up software that can reliably drive a car safely without a human," Kalanick told Bloomberg. "We are focusing on that."

Uber, in partnership with Volvo, plans on developing a fully autonomous car by 2021.

Read: All the Reasons Why Uber Is the Worst


Image via Lia Kantrowitz