Uber Are Heading in Reverse | Redbrick | University of Birmingham

Uber Are Heading in Reverse

Commentator Emily Youlton says that Uber's stubbornness is regressive for the technology giant

We all love Uber, right? The easy ordering, the cheap prices and convenience of it all: there rarely seems to be a drawback to this ever-growing American taxi service. It turns out, though, that Uber may not be as wondrous as we would hope.

It has just been announced that the company is using self-driving vehicles in San Francisco to transport customers to their desired destination. Now this may sound amazing, futuristic and forward thinking but there’s one problem: it’s illegal. Now, this simple notion would put most people and companies off, but not Uber! Their specially modified self-driving Volvo’s will continue to deliver customers to their destinations across San Francisco.

It’s not the self-driving bit that’s illegal but rather the test permit that the Department of Motor Vehicles require these cars to have. Uber are refusing to remove their road robots as each car has a safety driver at the wheel and they have just started the required testing process to allow the cars to pick up passengers without a driver. Other companies, like Google, have already been testing this autonomous technology and have paid the mere £120 (for 10 vehicles) for the permit to test these futuristic machines. The problem is, it’s likely to take years before these cars can roam our streets without a driver and it seems that Uber are just blatantly ignoring the rules rather than being forward thinking and testing their cars legally and more importantly safely.

What I’m struggling to see here is the point of Uber’s defiance. Why don’t they just pay the fee and test, according to the law?

Although any passenger can turn down the self-driving Uber's when requesting a ride, the cars have had to have lots of human intervention to reach their destination safely. The Vice-president of Uber has said that the regulations of the official bodies were irrelevant to his cars and that the title of ‘self-driving’ is something the authorities are giving the cars; however they still require human guidance. What I’m struggling to see here is the point of Uber’s defiance. Why don’t they just pay the fee and test, according to the law? It really doesn't seem like a big deal. If they want to move forward and introduce what could be amazing technology, why don't they do it legally? I’m sure it would save them a lot of hassle in the long run.

As much as I’m all for new technology and moving forward I really cannot understand why Uber would not simply pay for their permits or take their cars of the road until they are ready. Surely they could do without any more bad press this year, as if flagrantly ignoring workers’ rights wasn't enough? I feel like this illegal move offers no benefit and actually drags this technology into reverse by not complying with the law. If the whole process was done completely above-board, they would surely gain more support and funding and encourage this change in an approved and positive fashion. I think Uber need to stop and think about what they actually want to achieve before they make any more stubborn decisions.

English Language Student. News and Comment Writer (@EmilyJYoulton)


2nd January 2017 at 10:00 am

Last Updated

2nd January 2017 at 1:50 am

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