Want your self-driving car in Manila? Book an Uber someday

Carmela Fonbuena
Want your self-driving car in Manila? Book an Uber someday
Uber won't say no to a challenge but engineering manager Matt Sweeney says the technology has to get smarter first before it can be deployed in chaotic traffic

CALIFORNIA, USA – There is no such thing as a crazy idea for Uber. The US-based ridesharing application that got thousands of car owners around the world to share their vehicles with strangers is now working hard to include self-driving vehicles to its fleet.

“The way we think about it is we want self-driving cars to be deployed as part of a fleet of shared vehicles that operate for anyone to use,” Uber Transportation Policy and Research chief Andrew Salzberg told a summit attended by Rappler in San Francisco this week. 

But will driverless cars come to Metro Manila roads? It will take some time, but Uber won’t say no to a challenge. 

“We would absolutely love to,” a smiling Uber engineering manager Matt Sweeney told Rappler. He showed journalists from Asia and Latin America the self-driving trucks of Otto, the startup that Uber acquired to joing the push for self-driving cars. 

But first, Sweeney said the new technology has to get smarter first.

“We are very much at the beginning stage of this technology. We will focus on easier technical parts of this broader problem. The most complex, the most chaotic traffic cities are very challenging. The complexity ramps up from highway to a simple suburb to cities with relatively low congestion. But we want to bring it everywhere eventually,” Sweeney said.

Uber is among those testing self-driving cars on US roads. There’s a lot of issues as expected with new technoogies and the Congress, regulatory bodies, and courts have been watching closely watching the developments.

In San Francisco, self-driving cars stand out on the streets with silver cylinders rotating wildly on top of the cars serving as scanners to capture high-definition images of the streets. They’re fed to supercomputers, the brains of the self-driving car, that build 3D maps real time while sending instructions to the car. 

Uber is testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, where it is teaching the technology to navigate during the four different seasons.

Uber’s determination appears unaffected by the lawsuit filed by a Google subsidiary accusing Uber of stealing the technology. It is also working to get a permit to conduct tests again in California– Rappler.com

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