Cab aggregator Uber will offer the first self-driving car service within a fortnight to its customers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The launch is happening in collaboration with Volvo.
In a fillip to its efforts to build its capability in self-driving technology, the company is also acquiring Otto, a self-driving trucking company, for $680 million.
Uber’s declared goal is to build a fleet of self-driving vehicles so that it can eliminate drivers.
BMW, Ford, General Motors, Google, Nissan,Volvo, Toyota and Audi have been investing massively in autonomous vehicles. Prototypes have been successfully rolled out. Many cities in the US and a few countries are already working towards a regulatory regime to allow the use of such vehicles in the public space.
The US Bureau of Labor Statistics lists 884,000 people as employed in motor vehicles and parts manufacturing, and an additional 3.02 million in the dealer and maintenance network. Truck, bus, delivery, and taxi drivers together add up to nearly 6 million professional driving jobs
But it looks highly likely that many of these jobs will be eliminated in the next 10-15 years.
Urban transportation experts in India are of the view that Autonomous Vehicles may emerge as a highly efficient low-cost urban transport alternative by as early as 2025.
This will have serious implications for job creation in India. Uber and other car aggregators were seen as firms with massive job creation potential. Uber, for instance, had promised to create 50,000 jobs for women in India by 2020 and another 75,000 jobs in Maharashtra alone.
With Uber deciding to go driverless, a model which will eventually be followed by the rest, millions of low-end jobs the company created in India and elsewhere are ultimately headed for extinction.
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