Self Driving Cars in Pittsburgh?

Uber Self Driving
Riding with a robot?

Ubers driven by robots!

You know those awkward blind dates when you have nothing to say to the guy across the table? That’s how it can be in a cab. You just want to sit back and scroll through your Instagram feed, not make chit chat. But no, the cab driver insists on asking how your day is and commenting on your hair.

Or you have that sketchy cabbie who looks nothing like the harmless guy pictured in his Uber profile.

Enter self-driving Uber. A pilot program in Pittsburgh just introduced robot driven (but for now, engineer overseen) Uber in Pittsburgh, so you don’t have to have any human contact when you are sitting in a car.

More self driving cars on the horizon

Ford also just announced that it is developing fully autonomous vehicles for use in commercial operation for ride-hailing or ride-sharing service; these will be operation beginning in 2021. The Ford cars will not have steering wheels or gas and brake pedals.

Self Driving Cars

A self-driving Ford Fusion. Credit: Ford

Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and chief technical officer said Ford is tripling the number of self-driving Fusion Hybrid sedans it is road testing in California, Arizona and Michigan, bringing the number up to 30; it plans to triple it again next year.

Why driverless cars?

Part of the appeal of apps like Uber, Seamless and Taskrabbit is the anonymity of the transactions; no need to pick up the phone to actually call someone when you can just order on an app. So a driverless car is a logical progression.

But what happens when your driverless car makes a wrong turn, or you get sick in the car and need to have the car stop? On a recent Uber ride I took, despite the Google map giving directions, my driver made a wrong turn and then asked me for directions. How will that work in a driverless cab?

And what happens if you have an argument with your partner and want to jump out of the cab? I used to be prone to such dramatic gestures – you can’t slam the phone down anymore and hang up on someone in the middle of a fight (they call and ask if you lost service) and you can’t order a driverless car to pull over so you can storm home alone.

So what do you think? Yay or nay on driverless cabs?

And do you no longer have to tip the cabbie?

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell