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What is Happening at UBER at this Very Moment?

What is Happening at UBER at this Very Moment?

Well if you thought Uber had devel­oped a lot of ene­mies in the taxi busi­ness before by bring­ing a new lev­el of com­pe­ti­tion to the some­what monop­o­lized indus­try, you can bet that those ene­mies will be even more incensed with the com­pa­ny’s lat­est move — and per­haps iron­i­cal­ly, bring the very dri­vers that they gave a new lease on work­ing into the ene­my fold.

In the last week Uber has unveiled their fleet of self-dri­ving cars in the test mar­ket of Pitts­burgh, PA. But before you pull out your smart­phone to jump into the future, you should know that not every­one in the area will nec­es­sar­i­ly get one of these autonomous vehi­cles when they call for a ride. And those who do will be joined by an Uber dri­ver sit­ting behind the wheel just in case and anoth­er in the pas­sen­ger seat tak­ing notes.

A hand­ful of Ford Fusions make up the small group of self-dri­ving Uber cars in the city, but there will soon be Vol­vo XC90 SUVs join­ing the fray, once they’ve com­plet­ed test­ing in Swe­den. And if you hap­pen to be one of those chomp­ing at the bit for a ride in one because you think it will increase your pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, you’re in the minor­i­ty. Accord­ing to a study, 23% of peo­ple don’t trust the tech­nol­o­gy enough to even hail a ride, and anoth­er 36% say­ing they would only ride in one if they were pay­ing atten­tion to the road the whole time.

That will change, of course. Peo­ple object­ed to cars in gen­er­al when Ford start­ed rolling them out over 100 years ago. Not many do today. And there are a lot of advan­tages to autonomous cars, like less traf­fic and con­ges­tion, less CO2 emis­sions, less speed­ing and — one would assume — less acci­dents, more park­ing spaces, the list goes on. Plus, soft­ware does­n’t get in a rush if you’re late for work, does­n’t have road rage, and does­n’t for­get to make a left when it’s sup­posed to.

How­ev­er, the job oppor­tu­ni­ties for any­one to become a part-time dri­ver seem to be on their way out just as they were start­ing to get going. On the flip side, if you’re pur­su­ing a career in machine learn­ing then the future is wide open for you.

The expe­ri­ence of rid­ing in one of these self-dri­ving cars is appar­ent­ly pret­ty cool to say the least. An iPad in the rear seat tells the pas­sen­ger whether the auto-dri­ve func­tion is on or if the real dri­ver has tak­en over. They also see the world through the com­put­er vision pro­vid­ed by the gear atop the vehi­cle, so they see every­thing in infrared on the screen, like the car does. The orig­i­nal gear is com­pared to a desk­top com­put­er and bulky, but Uber moved to ‘lap­top’ gear with­in four months that’s much less bulky and ugly, and they’re work­ing on the ‘smart­phone’ ver­sion right now.

So, as progress is want to do, it march­es for­ward. Your future in dri­ving for a liv­ing is look­ing less pos­si­ble, but coders, machine learn­ing experts, and AI-dri­ven careers have yet anoth­er rea­son to shout.

(image cred­it: Uber)

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