Autonomous Uber Rides Could Soon Be Available in Detroit
The California-based company that is now in over six continents and 300 cities is coming to the Motor City.
“We have engineers come up to Detroit to meet with suppliers. We’ve also had discussions with automakers,” said Sherif Marakby, vice president for global vehicle development at Uber. “What we’re realizing is there is a huge critical mass of talent in the Detroit area.”
According to USA Today, Uber plans on opening a new research center in Detroit by the end of 2016.
Uber and other ride-hailing programs can potentially decrease drunk driving, which caused 31% of all vehicle-related deaths in the U.S. in 2014.
Along with the revolutionary service idea Uber and similar companies created, the next step is to have self-driving cars.
The Detroit News reports that Uber is attempting to reach agreements with nearly every automaker around the world about potential partnerships. Marakby believes Detroit could be a great location for a self-driving fleet. It does, however, depend on Detroit lawmakers.
“Positive legislation that allows technology companies like Uber to operate in Michigan will only help that,” Marakby added. “We’re very much working with the state on that. We hope it’s going to be a positive result.”
A few laws have been passed regarding autonomic vehicles in late September, although many believe two of the bills could potentially limit a company’s roll in operating self-driving vehicles in Michigan. As defined by the legislature, autonomic vehicle manufacturers are ones that have “distributed motor vehicles” in the U.S. before being allowed to run an autonomous ride-sharing business in the state of Michigan. Uber, although being one of the main companies leading the fight for autonomous vehicles, technically do not sell and distribute vehicles.
Uber has been running a fleet of autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid vehicles in Pittsburgh and has since invested $150 million to invest in the next stage of their autonomous car strategy.
“We’re very optimistic that we will launch in many areas that are open to us, including Michigan,” Marakby added.