Taking over the streets
In a deal that seems to bring the ever-looming robot apocalypse even closer, Uber has just announced a deal with Daimler, parent company of Mercedes-Benz, to allow the automaker to use the Uber platform in operating its own fleet of self-driving cars.
This is news that is sure to terrify those who are aware of the coming war with Skynet (Terminator) and current human Uber drivers alike. Those who are optimistic about robot-human relations, and frequent human Uber riders are admittedly more likely to be excited by this announcement.
What does this mean?
Essentially, Uber is playing it safe in case creating its own autonomous vehicles and technology turns out not to be in the company’s best interests. Not only are said vehicles expensive and complicated to manufacture, but they are also likely expensive and complicated to maintain, and as was recently proven in San Francisco, to get legally allowed onto the road. The self-driving vehicles that being tested thus far been testing are the product of a partnership with Volvo last year, using technology created by Uber.
However, this new deal will allow Daimler to create and retain ownership of, its own vehicles and self-driving technology. Instead, Daimler will be allowed to use the Uber platform during testing and upon completion of its autonomous vehicles. This saves Daimler from having to create its own dispatch and routing software, while also allowing it to own and operate an army of robot drivers. Therefore, both companies get a cut of the profits.
Partnerships to look out for
Similar partnerships are very likely to occur, as Uber spokeswoman Momo Zhou has recently stated that the company is open to other automakers using the platform as well.
Though the deal with Volvo is still in place, this acts as somewhat of a cushion in case it takes longer for Uber to complete its own self-driving technology.
Instead of having to compete against yet another auto maker, the mega-brand profits regardless. It also helps to further strengthen its grip on the industry, as underdog Lyft has announced a partnership with General Motors, and Ford has recently acquired ride-sharing platform Chariot, in the race toward autonomous driving technology. This also may prove more lucrative in the long-run, as it places the responsibility of liability insurance and maintenance costs on the automaker.
Though the financial details of the agreement have yet to be released, it can be assumed that it will be very different than the current driver agreement.
Well, at least if the robot apocalypse is coming, it may at least be coming in style. Arguably, there are worse ways to go than in a Mercedes S-Class.