Uber says it’s planning to carry passengers in autonomous vehicles without human backup drivers “at the latest sometime next year.”
Associated Press reports that the company’s Advanced Technology Group leader Eric Meyhofer wouldn’t give a specific start date but he said Uber won’t deploy the driverless cars without human backups unless they are proved safe.
“Once we can check that box, which we call passing the robot driver’s license test, that’s when we can remove the vehicle operator,” it quotes Meyhofer as saying in an interview at an auto industry investors conference Detroit. “We’re going aggressively too.”
The report adds that Meyhofer said Volvo XC-90 SUVs are being prepared for the work. Uber Technologies Inc. has 215 test vehicles carrying passengers with human backups in Phoenix, San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Toronto. They travel 80,000 miles per week gathering data and have given 50,000 paid rides, he said. The ride service now has 1,600 people working on autonomous vehicles in the four test locations.
AP adds that Meyhofer said Uber would start in the same way, gradually expanding the size of the area as mapping is done and vehicles become more capable. Currently the cars are limited to 40 miles per hour.