With all the concern about whether or not Lyft and Uber are meeting the security and safety requirements of various cities, the ridesharing giants, and their drivers, may be facing a more serious problem in the relatively near future. According to an article on Tech Times, a new patent may mean that Google’s long-discussed plans to launch a network of autonomous ridesharing cars may be started sooner rather than later.
To those of a certain age, this will feel like science fiction, though to the thousands of ridesharing drivers and cabdrivers it might seem more like a horror movie since they could easily become another category of worker essentially being replaced by robots. Even so, it may be some time until autonomous cars are able to wholly replace drivers. For one thing, it appears likely that the autonomous cars will not be able to go just anywhere and could be blocked by construction zones – something we see plenty of in busy urban areas. At the same time, Tech Times writes that Google should be able to overcome these issues by establishing specialized pick-up areas.
Even so, just as certain issues have developed around human-based ridesharing, some problems may also likely emerge around driverless cars. One issue that hasn’t been mentioned is that prospective passengers might simply decide they neither like nor trust them. Some might feel have sympathies with the threatened livelihoods of drivers, others might simply have an innate fear of cars that seem to have no drivers. Of course, if accidents do start to occur with these Google rideshares, then those latter fears will be bolstered. Of course, very low prices could be used as a carrot to try and overcome these concerns.
In any case, it will be very likely that Google cars will be covered by the same kind of high insurance coverage for liability that Uber and Lyft currently carry. Since robots don’t make errors the way people do, it’s likely that the Google cars will be safer than ordinary cars. Nevertheless, accidents really do happen, whether or not people are actually driving both vehicles.