Last month, Uber launched its self-driving car pilot program in Pittsburgh. This month, Uber drivers let us know what they think of being replaced by robots.
Vice, in the video above, sent a reporter out to talk to Pittsburgh’s Uber drivers, and the one thing they were most worried about was jobs. “They want to use people now,” said one driver, “to get them to start up the business, then go to self-driving cars.”
Many Uber drivers have been laid off from other jobs and picked Uber because you can just start get started working right away. And these drivers don’t see Uber as their life-long job. One interviewee said that the driverless Ubers seem “really cool,” and that she hopes that they’re successful.
Uber itself frames these job losses as more of a job-reallocation. In last month’s press release, announcing the pilot program, Uber vice president Anthony Levandowski said that “self-driving Ubers will be on the road 24 hours a day, which means they will need a lot more human maintenance than cars today.”
But signing up to be an Uber driver is a lot easier than training to become a mechanic for a self-driving car, so the low-skilled jobs (driving) will be replaced by highly skilled mechanics jobs. Hopefully nobody decides to disrupt the car-mechanic market.
Uber has told current drivers that they can apply to be safety drivers for its autonomous cars, but, as these drivers told Vice, they probably aren’t qualified to do the job. The whole point of being an Uber driver, it seems, is that it’s easy-to-get, casual work. And this kind of work is never really permanent. Going on the opinions of the drivers interviewed by Vice, none of them really seems that bothered, anyway.
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