It looks like yet another service is coming around to irritate taxi drivers everywhere, and this one might not even need to employ drivers of its own. Though they heavily backed the on-demand ride-hailing service Uber in 2013, Google now appears to be developing a similar service of its own. It’s very likely that, in order to do so, the tech giant will put into practice the driverless car project it has been working on for the past thousand years. Autonomous vehicles would certainly cut down on the possibility of drunks driving home, as well as leading to fewer run-ins with drivers by said drunk passengers. And, lest we forget, the Uber drivers who want to be treated as employees and not independent contractors. It always starts out so simply, doesn’t it?
Based on this inevitability, Uber has begun its own research into developing driverless cars in an effort to stay competitive with its former co-signers. Failing that, the car service might have to look into partnering with another company with bags full of money and no desire to change technology. Cars without steering wheels that are driven by an internal computer (or nine) seem to be the way of the future, after all. High-end manufacturers like Mercedes, Audi, and Tesla are all developing their own version of the technology for sale to people with lots of money, presumably those who want to feel like they have a chauffeur but don’t actually want to pay or talk to anybody.
This is quite an interesting scenario, especially since Uber has come under fire from many different groups about the cost, the way they treat drivers, and how they stack up with other services like Lyft. Plus, people tend to trust Google anyway, so adding yet another Google app on their phone won’t seem weird or foreign. If Uber really wants to stay in the game, they ought to look into making Johnny Cabs from Total Recall a reality, just for kitsch value alone. Regardless of how all of this shakes out, the only certainty seems to be that all those drivers trying to make extra cash for themselves will be left out in the cold.
What’s your take on driverless cars? Would you get in a Google robot if it got you to your destination cheaper than an Uber? Let us know in the comments below.