If no one wants to own a car, what?s next? No car insurance, for sure. No self-serve pump visits. No car repairs and certainly no more car washes. Uber and its kind (e.g. Lyft) might well end up owning transportation in America?and everywhere else.
The Uber truth
The road to no car in the driveway, at the curb or in a garage for anyone in America may be getting its start at Carnegie Mellon University?s Robotics Institute in Pittsburgh, PA.
Uber and other aspiring driverless-car-on-demand services like it may one day soon become the largest automobile owners in the world, because no one will need to own a car.
Rolling into the Robotics Institute, Uber plans to quickly ramp up a mission for Next-Gen Uber vehicles that would be totally driver-less.
The driver-on-demand service that was recently valued at $41 billion, Uber is building a robotics research lab in Pittsburgh, PA and is a hiring a fifty-person robotics engineering staff to get the job done.
Uber will be developing the core technology, the vehicles, and associated infrastructure at its soon-to-be Pittsburgh facility. TechCrunch reported Uber has “already hired a number of employees and made moves to outfit them with software, including a multi-hundred-thousand dollar investment in third-party engineering workstations.”
The company has got massively deep pockets to take on just about anything. The company recently raised $4 billion in equity and debt including $1.6 billion in convertible debt. This follows a $1.4 billion Series D funding round over the summer as well as another $1.2 billion round in December (2014).
All of this sits just fine with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick who is all for replacing human drivers with self-driving cars.
Last May, Kalanick rolled out Uber’s driverless vision at a Re/code Code conference: ?The reason Uber could be expensive is you?re paying for the other dude in the car. When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip.?
Kalanick also said that, over time, the cost of a ride would be so low that even the idea of car ownership itself might just ?go away.?
Ah, the idea of car ownership going bye-bye.
Zack Kanter, futurist blogger explained to CBS News how this Uber-inspired driver-less world could come to pass.
?Industry experts think that consumers will be slow to purchase autonomous cars ? while this may be true, it is a mistake to assume that this will impede the transition.
?Morgan Stanley?s research shows that cars are driven just 4 percent of the time, which is an astonishing waste considering that the average cost of car ownership is nearly $9,000 per year.
?Next to a house, an automobile is the second most expensive asset that most people will ever buy ? it is no surprise that ride sharing services like Uber and car sharing services like Zipcar are quickly gaining popularity as an alternative to car ownership.
?It is now more economical to use a ride sharing service if you live in a city and drive less than 10,000 miles per year. The impact on private car ownership is enormous: a UC-Berkeley study showed that vehicle ownership among car sharing users was cut in half.?
The 75 percent solution: no drivers
?The car purchasers of the future will not be you and me,? adds Kanter, ?cars will be purchased and operated by ride sharing and car sharing companies.
And current research confirms that we would be eager to use autonomous cars if they were available. A full 60 percent of US adults surveyed stated that they would ride in an autonomous car, and nearly 32 percent said they would not continue to drive once an autonomous car was available instead.10
?But no one is more excited than Uber ? drivers take home at least 75 percent of every fare.?
It?s all getting started right now at a lab in western Pennsylvania.