Last week two interesting developments took place in the emerging field of autonomous driving – Uber Technologies established a strategic partnership with the Carnegie Mellon University and Google is reportedly getting ready to provide its own ride-hailing service.
These seemingly unrelated news could have deep implications over the future of two emerging auto segments: autonomous driving and car-sharing. It’s no secret that San Francisco-based Uber is among the best-valued technology companies in the US – at around $40 billion. It’s also no secret that the car-hailing service provider would very much like to see the days when self-driving cars become reality. That’s because they could eliminate on huge cost generator – the drivers. And the Uber Advanced Technologies Center established near the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) campus in Pittsburgh might do just that, with its focus “on the development of key long-term technologies that advance Uber’s mission of bringing safe, reliable transportation.”
The other half of the story is that from partners (Google has acquired a stake in Uber), the two technology companies might become rivals – since Google’s intention to offer a ride-sharing service would put it in direct competition with Ubers’ core business. The clash could boil down to the mapping solutions – you won’t have autonomous driving without a proper mapping service. And here Google has the upper hand – its Maps service has not been bested by Apple, Microsoft and others so far. Chris Urmson, director of Google’s Self-Driving Cars even made it clear that the company envisions autonomous driving as the taxis of tomorrow – skipping the need of car ownership almost entirely, at least as far as urban transportation is concerned.