The race to make an autonomous car is on, with a number of automotive and technology companies currently developing self-driving vehicles.
Tesla is one of a number of companies investing heavily in the technology, which could have huge benefits on companies in the car-sharing sector. Ride-sharing app Uber would benefit greatly from the development of a commercially viable autonomous car.
Uber tells Tesla it would gladly buy 500,000 autonomous cars
A report on LearnBonds.com claims that Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that his company would buy each and every one of the 500,000 cars that Tesla plans to sell by 2020, with the caveat that they must be self-driving.
Tesla is making progress in adding autonomous features to its vehicles, and CEO Elon Musk has said that an impending summer update would allow the Model S to “travel all the way from San Francisco to Seattle without the driver touching any controls at all.”
The company has claimed that it aims to make and sell 500,000 electric vehicles by 2020, including the existing Model S, the upcoming Model X and the Model 3, expected in 2017. Despite these ambitious sales plans, no date has been given for the release of a fully autonomous vehicle.
Musk himself is skeptical as to whether a fully autonomous car will be seen on the roads by 2020, and predicts that their arrival may take more than 20 years.
Huge implications for companies such as Uber
Uber also has its own research program into autonomous vehicles, in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University. The benefits of self-driving cars would be huge for companies like Uber, allowing them to drastically lower costs.
Kalanick previously acknowledged that Uber’s existing service can seem expensive because of the fact that the user has to pay for both the car and its driver. Removing the driver would allow massive cost reductions.
Bill Gates told Lionel Barber, editor of the Financial Times, that self-driving cars are a “real rubicon,” and claimed that “Uber is primed to take the lead.” Other companies such as Google will provide stiff competition, and the company has already been testing its self-driving car on open roads.
In May, Goldman Sachs wrote that Google is winning the race towards producing an autonomous vehicle, predicted that the company will be the first to develop a commercial self-driving car. The report made no mention of Tesla.