Since forming in 2009, Uber has grown into the most popular cab hailing app in the world – and now, it’s tapping into automation technology to make its next steps. Driverless Uber cars – which can be booked using the Uber app like a regular car – began operating in Pittsburgh in September 2016.
Current Operations and the Future for Australian Riders
The company announced a fleet of four driverless vehicles in the city, and at the time, they confirmed at least a dozen more cars were being prepared to enter circulation. But is the company planning on going beyond the United States? Well, after trials were made in Adelaide, Australia in 2015, researchers are suggesting that this technology could be coming to Australia soon.
Gerard Waldron, the managing director of the ARRB Group – an independent road research group – has said that driverless taxi services, like Uber, should be coming to Australia within the next five or ten years.
Waldron said that because Australia’s geography, economy and concentration of people were not all that different to the United States, it is reasonable to assume that similar progression will be made.
What Will It Cost?
If Uber and other cab hailing apps go down the route of self-driving vehicles, it’s possible that the cost of the service will be drastically reduced. As there will be no need to pay for a driver, Uber will be able to significantly reduce costs, so that users are only paying for general operation costs, fuel and taxes.
Waldron, from the ARRB group, also says it’s possible there will be a premium service available, or a cheaper option where you can share your ride with other people. This is already available under Uber’s ride sharing options, and the Uber Black and Uber XL.
It’s not just Uber that could be operating driverless vehicles in Australia in the future. The Driverless Vehicle Roundtable was an event held in Sydney, on the 22nd October 2014. The event brought together decision makers and thinkers from a variety of organisations, and looked at what steps would be necessary in order to bring self-driving vehicles to the streets of Australia.
According to the Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative, the event was successful in bringing people together from a range of backgrounds, to discuss the topic and how plans can be put into place.
ADVI has even performed research that suggests that a majority of Australians want self-driving cars meaning the market for a driverless Uber service is definitely there. In their report, ADVI found that seven in ten Australians want to be able to use self-driving cars when they’re feeling tired or bored. The report also shows that just under half of all Australians believe that driverless vehicles could actually be safer than a human driver. This information came from a study of 5,000 Australians over the age of 18.