In May 2014, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick set off alarm bells when he suggested at a tech conference that self-driving cars, and not people, were the future of Uber’s ride services. “The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car—you’re paying for the other dude in the car,” Kalanick said. “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.” Ironically, those statements also came one day after the company first trumpeted that half of its drivers working in New York City were making more than $90,000 a year (a claim that’s long since been debunked).
When those initial comments about self-driving cars triggered panic among Uber’s drivers, Kalanick quickly backpedaled. “Drivers on @uber_nyc making $90k/yr,” he tweeted. “Driverless car is a multi-decade transition. Let’s take a breath and I’ll see you in the year 2035.” And yet: Not even a full year later,TechCrunch has reported (and Uber has mostlyconfirmed in a blog post) that Uber has hired more than 50 senior scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and the National Robotics Engineering Center, and invested several hundred thousand dollars in building a robotics research lab that will develop autonomus Taxi