Uber launches self-driving cars in US

(Reuters)
(Reuters)

Ride-sharing company Uber has launched a self-driving car trial in the United States.

The company is heralding it as the beginning of a new age of transportation and is pitching the technology as livesaving.

"One-point-three million people die every year in car accidents, 94 percent of those are human error, and we really think self-driving cars can make a dent in that statistic," says Uber's Raffi Krikorian.

But although self-driving vehicles may save lives, they could endanger livelihoods, with job losses for human drivers.

Mercedes-Benz has developed prototypes for self-driving trucks and a bus it predicts will be mainstream within the next decade.

Our Transport Agency says there are almost 40,000 drivers in New Zealand with the passenger licence endorsement needed to drive taxis and buses.

There are around 4000 Uber drivers and Ben Wilson, who represents them, isn't predicting the end of the profession anytime soon.

"[Self-driving Ubers could be introduced] in the long-term, possibly, but they will be very expensive technology and currently Uber drivers are very cheap by comparison," he says.

"I don't see it in the short term."

Uber wouldn't give Newshub an indication of when its self-driving cars might land in New Zealand, but the $100 billion company says it's looking forward to expanding its pilot.

Newshub.

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