The end of taxi drivers? Uber wants to buy all of Tesla’s self-driving cars, rumours suggest

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  • Venture capitalist Steve Jurvetson recounted a conversation with Travis Kalanick at the 17th annual Top 10 Tech Trends dinner in San Jose
  • Said Uber’s CEO told him that if Tesla’s cars are autonomous by 2020, he would buy all 500,000 that are expected to be produced
  • Uber’s already under fire from taxi drivers, some of whom feel they’re being squeezed out of the market, and such a move would make them redundant 

Despite criticism from taxi drivers, Uber is planning on moving its business up a gear by embracing autonomous vehicles. The firm’s CEO, Travis Kalanick, has reportedly said he intends to buy up all of Tesla’s self-driving cars if they’re made in the next six years. Such a move from would go further than driving down the rates taxi drivers are able to charge, and could put them out of business altogether. He suggested that Uber’s CEO believes self-driving cars are the future, saying Kalanick told him that if Tesla’s cars are autonomous by 2020, he would buy all 500,000 that are expected to be produced. Tesla is currently testing 12 autonomous cars on Californian roads and Elon Musk, the firm’s CEO, claims they will spell the end of motorists.

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This may mean that taxi drivers will be put out of business too. Musk has previously said that humans could be banned from driving in years to come and all cars will, instead, be controlled by robots. The entrepreneur claims that computers will one day do a much better job of driving and that humans are simply ‘too dangerous’ behind the wheel. ‘It would be like an elevator. They used to have elevator operators, and then we developed some simple circuitry to have elevators just automatically come to the floor that you’re at … the car is going to be just like that,’ he told NVidia’s CEO, Jen-Hsun Huang at the company’s annual developers conference in March. Musk said that the obvious answer to keeping humans safe on the road is to ban us from driving, because ‘it’s too dangerous…you can’t have a two-ton death machine,’ The Verge reported.

Instead of taking to the wheel, drivers and passengers could read a book or watch a film while their cars tackle the roads for them. However, Musk said that such a vision could take over 20 years to become a reality, suggesting that taxi drivers may be in work for a while yet. Tesla is among many firms that have added self-driving features to its cars and joins the likes of BMW, Volvo and Google, which are developing cars that could drive themselves completely. Tesla’s Model S features an ‘autopilot’ mode, which uses sensors to stop drivers drifting accidently between motorway lanes, as well as moderate speed and brake when necessary. Last October, Musk said the Palo Alto-based firm is working on a model that will be 90 per cent in control.

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