Uber Wanted To Launch Autonomous Ride-Hailing This Year

The fatal crash involving an autonomous Uber will prevent the company from launching a self-driving ride-hailing service as soon as once planned.

In a comprehensive report detailing Dara Khosrowshahi’s new position as chief executive, The New Yorker discovered that Uber intended on launching a driverless car service by the end of 2018.

During a phone interview with Khosrowshahi, The New Yorker learned that the former Expedia chief had been disheartened by the scrutiny around his new job. Furthermore, he admitted that the fatal crash “was truly tragic” and that “[Uber has] clearly taken a very, very big step back.”

The story also reveals that upon taking up his role at Uber, Khosrowshahi considered shuttering the company’s self-driving car program due to its huge costs. However, the head of Uber’s autonomous driving program, Eric Meyhofer convinced Khosrowshahi of the importance of continuing the self-driving efforts.

Uber thinks autonomy is its future

“This is all about building autonomous ride-sharing, at scale, as a product. This is our future,” Meyhofer told The New Yorker.

Meyhofer believes that venturing into the world of autonomous ride-hailing is necessary for the survival of Uber.

“The problem is, if someone builds this technology and puts it on a ride-sharing network, their cost competitiveness will be stronger than ours. And if someone else does that, and we don’t have it, how long can we survive?

“So you’re racing this ghost. And no matter what you do it’s not enough. Dara doesn’t impose pressure like that, but he doesn’t need to. It’s the reality of the business we’re in,” he said.

The full effects of the fatal crash on Uber’s autonomous vehicle program remain unclear. However, it is certain that the accident will significantly delay the introduction of such technology to the public.

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  • HDS

    I find ironic that the car brand involved in this tragic incident is Volvo – who for year has built a reputation for safety. Volvo made a pledge no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car or SUV by the year 2020… but will go down in history as the first car brand involved in the first reported fatal crash between a self-driving vehicle and a pedestrian.

    • Status

      I think Volvo will recover from this accident and thrive, but I think their 2020 pledge may need to be amended slightly. I don’t think the same calibre of management exists at Uber.

  • LWOAP

    Those plans are now officially out the window.

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