Ride-sharing service company Uber has developed a great passion for driver-less cars and is raising a big fleet. According to an auto industry source, Uber is looking to buy thousands of autonomous cars and the shopping spree has started.
Uber is hoping that driver-less cars will solve its rising costs on the driver component and cut the mounting losses.
Among the top car makers, working to produce autonomous and semi-autonomous cars include Volkswagen’s Audi, Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW, reports Reuters.
According to a report in the Manager Magazine in Germany, Uber has already placed a huge order for 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars.
In 2013, Mercedes-Benz developed an S-class limousine for its autonomous car push, in response to Google’s plans to have driverless cars, and drove 100 km between the towns of Mannheim and Pforzheim without any driver input.
However, analysts at BNP Paribas said fully automated cars are unlikely to hit the road until 2030 as regulatory hurdles need to be cleared. It sees a $33 billion market shaping up in automated driving technology by 2020.
The big hurdle in regularising driverless cars is the question of fixing liability in the event of an accident. Signatories to the 1968 United Nations Convention on Road Traffic stipulate that only a person has to be in control of a vehicle and it should not be any computer.
Mercedes-Benz is yet to offer a model with fully autonomous driving functionality. Benz, Daimler and Uber did not comment on the report.
Meanwhile, New Zealand’s taxi industry slammed Uber for breaching safety laws by tinkering with established business models and urged the government to respond with tighter regulation.
New Zealand Taxi Federation chief executive Roger Heale said Uber had “ridden into town, firing from the hip.” He was slamming Uber’s fast-tracked business model launched in Christchurch on March 17, wherein potential drivers were urged to sign up for a service in six days at a cost of $20. Uber drivers in Auckland and Wellington were asked to apply for a passenger endorsement in a short span, which otherwise takes three months and $2000 in costs.
Heale said Uber’s model is breaching rules and the contracts have confirmed that the company has no regard for safety liability with respect to drivers or their cars, reports Stuff.Co.Nz.