An unnamed source disclosed to Reuters that ride-sharing service Uber wants to order 100,000 autonomous vehicles.
The reason is that is aims to eliminate drivers, one of its highest expenses, as it seeks to regain profitability.
While several automakers are working vigorously on autonomous driving technology, and even offer semi-autonomous capability, no fully-autonomous vehicles are yet on the market. The development is being accelerated by many countries allowing them to be trialed on public roads.
Nevertheless, Manager Magazin of Germany alleged on Friday that 100,000 Mercedes S-Classes were ordered by the upstart, but that was soon quashed by a source closely linked to Daimler.
According to industry insiders, Uber is a bit of a poisoned chalice among automakers, who are hesistant to take the risk of tying up with them. "We don't want to end up like Nokia's handset business, which was once hugely profitable and then disappeared", commented an exec.
Nevertheless, ride-sharing is experiencing a meteoric rise, with automakers collaborating with ride-share companies to get a slice of the pie- like GM is doing with Lyft . Cab drivers are not particularly fond of Uber, though.
BNP Paribas analysts project a $25 billion value on autonomous vehicle tech by the end of the decade, but don’t expect the roll out of completely autonomous cars to commence until 2025-2030.
By Mitchell Jones