A self-driving Uber with a human driver in a city that is not Dallas. (courtesy of Uber)

Transportation

Poll: Would You Hop in a Self-Driving Uber in Downtown Dallas?

When the company comes to town, the transportation giant might bring some robot cars with it.

Uber Advanced Technologies Group chief Eric Meyhofer talks to the Dallas Morning News about the company’s plan to map downtown Dallas and decide whether to bring in self-driving cars. If it decides to go for it, riders here will get their choice between robot drivers and real people.

And if you ask for a ride from one address to another and those two addresses fall within the route set that self-driving cars serve, you’ll get a notice that says, ‘Hey, you’ve been paired with a self-driving car. Would you like to try that or would you like to have a driver partner pick you up?’ So you get to choose. And what happens is when you get a choice, you’re more empowered and you are more curious and you have more of a tendency to lean in and be bold.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about Meyhofer classifying hopping in a two-ton vehicle using Uber’s tech as “bold.” But we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that classification speaks more to his gauge for the temperature of consumers right now—that is, his perception of our perception of the risks of autonomous driving—rather than the risks themselves. I hope that’s what he’s saying.

Anyway, it got me curious about feelings toward self-driving right here in Dallas. In March 2018 in Tempe, Arizona, a 49-year-old woman on foot was struck and killed by one of the autonomous Ubers while crossing the street, launching a discussion about the speed at which autonomous cars were hitting the market and causing the company to shut down testing for nine months. But Uber has revamped the Volvo since then and says it has made other serious changes to its safety culture.

Even after testing started back up, the rollout has been slower. In Dallas, starting in November, Uber says it will merely operate its self-driving cars with human drivers to begin to map the city and capture everyday driving scenarios. Only then will it decide whether to operate actual self-driving Ubers here.

All that considered, a poll:

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