Uber has unveiled plans to trial autonomous'sidewalk robots' to deliver food to people's doorsteps. The US ride-hailing giant announced the idea as part of a raft of new features and services for its customers. These included an option for those in certain cities to specifically request a ride in an electric car, which Uber said was part of its global commitment to becoming a zero-emissions mobility platform by 2040. Comfort Electric is now available in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego and Dubai, with more cities to come soon. The sidewalk robot concept is one of two autonomous delivery pilot programs being trialled in California.
Uber announced a few big plans at its product event on Monday, including autonomous deliveries and the ability to specify if you want your ride to be an electric vehicle. Now, to be clear, these new features will not be rolling out to everyone right away. Uber rolled out its Comfort Electric program in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Dubai, while promising it would add more cities soon. The feature lets riders choose an electric ride, similar to how you can order a larger vehicle (Uber XL) or a ride with your pet (Uber Pet). "It's as simple as tap a button and request a ride in a premium EV like a Tesla or Polestar," the company wrote in a press release.
Self-driving vehicles are one of the most anticipated and exciting innovations in the world today. Driverless cars seemed like a sci-fi fantasy only a decade ago but they are fast becoming a reality as companies like auto manufacturers, ridesharing services, and tech companies race to develop a safe and reliable autonomous vehicle (AV). This article originally appeared in the Motley Fool. If the autonomous vehicle revolution lives up to the expectations of futurists and forecasters, its effects will be far-reaching. Not only will everyday commuting and transportation be transformed due to the rise of "mobility as a service" -- as the driverless revolution has been called -- but a wide range of industries will also be changed for better or worse as they adapt to a world where people can easily move from one destination to another in computerized pods. Just as the cloud has led to the transition of computing as a scalable service rather than a concrete product like hardware, analysts see a similar evolution with self-driving cars.
Anyone summoning a Ford self-driving taxi after the company's service launches in 2021 could be offered detours to sponsoring stores or wind up riding alongside packages out for delivery. At an event on Wednesday to showcase Ford's progress in developing autonomous vehicles, the carmaker said its driverless rides could be less than half the price of today's ride-share journeys,if the cars were used day and night and carried interactive adverts. The firm is also insistent that it is not lagging behind Waymo, which has promised a commercial self-driving taxi service by the end of this year, or GM, which says it will follow suit in 2019. "If we wanted to call a launch 100 vehicles [on the road] next year and go into some business, we could do that," said Sherif Marakby, CEO of Ford Autonomous Vehicles, a spin-off from the giant automaker tasked with developing autonomous technologies, vehicles, and services. "[But] we're an auto company and when we talk about launch at scale, we're talking tens of thousands vehicles, and [doing that] profitably. That's different from what others are thinking."
Uber wants to go all electric, and soon. On Tuesday, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi announced four actions Uber is taking "to become a zero-emissions mobility platform." Uber, of course, doesn't own the cars its drivers use, so the ride-hailing company's first action is working to expand the number of hybrid and all-electric vehicles you can request with a new ride mode called Uber Green in 15 cities in the U.S. and Canada. This new type of drive (which has been in many European cities for years) is different from UberX or Uber Black. It's supposed to entice drivers to use an an electric or hybrid electric vehicle, and for passengers to select one when ride-sharing.