Uber Plans An Autonomous Car Fleet With A Half-Billion Dollar Investment

The Uber ride sharing service has experienced notable growth since the company’s launch six years ago, with Forbes recently reporting that Uber has completed their two billionth trip. With half of these rides completed in the last year alone, there is a strong need for the company to keep pace with exponentially-rising demand.

Last week, Brian McClendon, one of the leading designers of Uber’s mapping software, explained the value of expanding the capabilities of Uber’s maps in order to improve accuracy and the overall user experience. McClendon explains that a stronger infrastructure will act as a catalyst for future innovation, such as the introduction of self-driving cars.

The Verge reported on Sunday that Uber will be investing $500 million into a fleet of mapping cars that will monitor traffic patterns and help identify ideal pick-up and drop-off points. The funds are intended to ease the company’s reliance on Google’s mapping technology, which currently does not offer these capabilities to Uber.

These mapping cars have already begun operating in the United States, according to McClendon, and will expand into Mexico by the end of summer 2016. This move towards automated driving, however, comes at a time when competitors have already begun testing their autonomous vehicle services in preparation for their upcoming commercial launch. Tesla Motors has already reported over 150 million miles logged by their drivers. Last year, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick stated that the company plans to have a driver-less fleet by the year 2030.

(Via The Verge)