SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco-based ridesharing giant Uber may be plotting its future without drivers.
Uber issued a statement Monday confirming that they have reached a strategic partnership with Carnegie Mellon University to create an “Advanced Technology Center.” The center would perform research and development in the areas of mapping, vehicle safety, and autonomy technology.
“We are excited to join the community of Pittsburgh and partner with the experts at CMU, whose breadth and depth of technical expertise, particularly in robotics, are unmatched,” said Jeff Holden, Uber’s chief product officer. “As a global leader in urban transportation, we have the unique opportunity to invest in leading edge technologies to enable the safe and efficient movement of people and things at giant scale. This collaboration and the creation of the Uber Advanced Technologies Center represent an important investment in building for the long term of Uber.”
The blog Tech Crunch reports that Uber is hiring a team of Carnegie Mellon University robotics engineers to “kickstart autonomous taxi fleet development.”
Citing unnamed sources, TechCrunch says the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania-based development team will include 50 senior scientists from Mellon and associated firms working to develop cars specifically for Uber.
Uber’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has previously said getting rid of drivers would dramatically reduce costs.
“When there is no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere is cheaper. Even on a road trip,” he said last year, as quoted by Time.
It’s not clear at this point when the company hopes to have the vehicles functioning.