Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: soon, nobody will own a car

The roll-out of self-driving vehicles within the next decade could spell the end of car ownership, according to Uber founder and CEO Travis Kalanick.

Uber, Google and Apple are among the many companies working on the development of self-driving cars, and Kalanick believes it won’t be long before autonomous vehicles begin to go mainstream. When this happens, the CEO says, mass car ownership will quickly become a thing of the past.

And ride-sharing companies like Uber, which is testing driverless vehicles in Pittsburgh, could help to speed up the decline in car ownership.

“If there was a mobility service that’s cheaper than owning a car, more reliable, and you get to sit in the back seat instead of being stressed out in the front seat, why would you own a car?” Kalanick asked.

“You might own a car like maybe some people own a horse. You know, they might take a ride on the weekends or something,” he said at the Forum’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions in Tianjin, China.

“I think that’s where the world is going. People will not own cars, they’ll have a service that takes them where they want to go, when they want to go there. And that’s what Uber is.”

Kalanick says Uber’s ultimate goal is really to work out how to get more people in fewer cars.

“Think of a world where there is no ride-sharing, people are driving themselves to work. You now have 30 people being served by 30 cars. Those 30 cars are only served 4% of the day; 96% of the day they’re stored somewhere. Around 20% to 30% of our land is taken up just storing these hunks of metal that we drive around in for 4% of the day.”

“We can do better. So Uber rolls out and it’s one car serving 30 people instead of 30 cars. And then we do something like Uber Pool, where you push a button. Car comes, you open the door, you get in but there’s somebody else already in the car, because two people are taking the same trip at the same time.”

Another compelling reason for driverless vehicles is road safety, said Kalanick. Experts claim that self-driving cars are a safer option because the vast majority of road accidents are caused by human error.

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“Google has been working on self-driving cars for eight years. And there’s a reason. A million people die every year in cars, from human error. People making mistakes when they’re driving. And there are tens of millions of people getting injured.”

“Then think of the trillions of hours that we spend behind the wheel driving,” added Kalanick. “There will be a huge, huge positive impact for society when driverless cars become a thing.”

Of course, even driverless cars aren’t perfect. Earlier this year one of Google’s self-driving vehicles collided with a public bus in the Silicon Valley city of Mountain View.

The incident is thought to be the first example of one of the company’s prototype cars causing an accident, but the bump was a minor one. The car was rolling at 2 mph and the bus at 15 mph, and there were no injuries.

Watch the full session with Travis Kalanick here.

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