Uber is preparing to dump its drivers as the self-driving vehicle is not so far away. A few years ago, when I told people that self-driving cars was the new technology, the wave of the future and likely the next biggest thing since the advent of the internet, I was looked at like I had 4 heads. Now, Telsa, who is at the forefront of developing the self-driving vehicle, has announced that all Tesla cars being produced now have full self-driving hardware
Self-driving vehicles will play a crucial role in not only improving transportation safety, but in revolutionizing how people seek and utilize transportation. Full autonomy will enable a Tesla to be substantially safer than a human driver, lower the financial cost of transportation for those who own a car and provide low-cost on-demand mobility for those who do not.
Tesla’s already doing its own early testing which shows vehicles with fully autonomous capabilities navigating city and freeway streets with apparent ease. Tesla has been criticized for rolling out autonomous features before the technology is fully proven, but then again, when was the last time a disruptor to any industry was not criticized. Just like Uber, Tesla learns a great deal of information from its computers and full fleet of vehicles. Every Telsa car, even those in customers’ hands, collects data and sends it back to the company’s headquarters, where engineers analyze and refine the system. The same applies for Uber and the millions of people that use its app.
The CEO of Uber says self-driving cars won’t replace human drivers in the near term. This is surely a bluff to keep Uber drivers from leaving its flock before the next big shift in transportation takes place. We all know that the next big shift is the self-driving vehicle. Once this is fully tested, accepted and approved, Uber will kick its drivers to the curb and by then. Of course, Kalanick, the CEO of Uber, has been less vocal about how Uber’s self-driving ambitions will affect its fleet of urban drivers. Of course Uber has been less than vocal. Do you tell your staff of workers that they are about to be fired and replaced with robots before the robots actually arrive? Never. You wait till the robots arrive and then you fire everyone. Whether Uber makes deals in the future with automakers, rents self-driving vehicles or creates some other new business model in the transportation industry, the fact remains that Uber’s drivers do not have long term security with Uber.
So the question remains…why don’t Uber drivers open their eyes and realize their days are numbered. Why stay with a company that is planning, in the short term, to replace you? Why stay with a company that treat you like a commodity, rather than a person who provides a valuable service? Uber helped decimate much of the for-hire vehicle industry in New York City and the Uber drivers that stay with Uber are only furthering the demise of long-standing car service and dispatch companies. Many may say, well those long standing companies should have invested in technology like Uber and should have catered more to the needs and desires of their customers and should not complain now. Be that as it may, the reality is that once the self-driving vehicle arrives, Uber drivers will be knocked off in drives and will be seeking affiliations once again with their old dispatch bases.
Many of the smaller dispatch bases in the outer boroughs of NYC are already being decimated or are closing down. The bigger ones are holding their own, but why would a Uber driver who, eventually, is going to go back to affiliate with once of their old dispatch bases help to contribute to their downfall. Why not leave Uber now and go to a dispatch base that values your service as a provider of transportation. Yes, Uber is a means for drivers to make extra money and to have an alternative to the way business has been done in the for-hire vehicle industry in NYC for the past 30 years. But, take a look down the road, read the news and open your eyes. Uber is not the salvation army and is not going to keep one driver for one second longer than they have to. Uber drivers should not just think about today, but think about the future of transportation in NYC and their own future with a company that is actively plotting to get rid of you.