Uber CEO sees self-driving cars replacing human drivers, but not anytime soon

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has revealed his view of the future, and it’s not a bright one for the car industry or the drivers his company employs. Speaking at the Code Conference in California, Kalanick said that Uber will eventually move away from hiring human drivers to use a fleet of driverless cars. 

“Look, this is the way the world is going… If Uber doesn’t go there, it’s not going to exist either way,” Kalanick said. 

His statements come after Uber announced that its drivers make around three times more than the average cab driver. According to the Washington Post, the median wage for UberX drivers that work at least 40 hours a week is $90,766 a year in New York City. The figure is $74,191 in San Francisco. This is significantly higher than the typical salary for a cab driver, which usually comes to around $30,000 per year.

Kalanick later gave a timeline for the transition, perhaps in an effort to calm panicking drivers. He said that the transition will not be immediate and is still decades away. “Driverless car is a multi-decade transition. Let’s take a breath and I’ll see you in the year 2035,” he said in a tweet

Kalanick said that once his company makes the transition to using self-driving cars, it may make car ownership obsolete.

“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. So the magic there is, you basically bring the cost below the cost of ownership for everybody, and then car ownership goes away.” 

Aside from predicting the future, Kalanick also talked about the present, announcing that his company has formalized a partnership with AT&T. The deal will provide wireless service to Uber drivers and pre-load the company’s app on 50 million new AT&T Android smartphones.

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