Uber might be having some trouble with the new laws in California, but the rideshare app company may soon make interesting headlines in Washington, D.C. Uber now moves forward with plans to bring self-driving vehicles to the nation’s capital. Considering the demand for rideshare in D.C., Uber may be able to pick up more fares with efficient self-driving cars. Don’t expect to see these autonomous cars on D.C. roads soon, though. Uber plans a slow-burn rollout to make sure the idea proves feasible.
Uber’s current plans involve collecting data to determine the feasibility of going live with a fleet of self-driving cars. So, drivers will perform “Uber duties,” and the technicians at Uber will make appropriate logs. At some point, the data will undergo a review of mapping data and recorded driver scenarios. The information then allows engineers to craft the self-driving cars better.
Customer service stands as one reason why Uber prefers a deliberate approach. If the self-driving cars don’t perform well, then customers will likely gravitate to a competitor. The other purpose, and probably the biggest, involves safety. Uber certainly wouldn’t want any accidents, which is a possibility with self-driving cars. Of course, the chance of an accident exists even with a careful human driver behind the wheel. However, the lack of an actual driver requires the engineers to cover all bases of safety and performance before allowing the vehicles on the road.
Local politicians and authorities wouldn’t likely tolerate self-driving cars in the aftermath of an incident. Even a minor accident could create a public relations and regulatory problem for Uber in D.C. Uber wants to avoid such a scenario, and careful planning increases the chances of doing so.
Other companies invested in self-driving vehicles plan on launching services in D.C. in the future, as well. Uber, however, may become the first.