Let’s look beyond hard core logic here.
Abhishek Jain
11

You’re right that changing habits is what this is all about, and I am sure that some people will be hesitant to use self driving cars, all else (price/eta) being equal. I’m making an assumption that self driving cars can be deployed at a per mile rate of at least 5x cheaper than Uber as long as they are using drivers. When Uber switched from professional black cars and taxis to amateur drivers with UberX, most people shared the same skepticism and fears. They didn’t want to ride with someone who was unlicensed and inexperienced in their personal, not always well kept, cars. They all quickly changed their mind in June 2013 after Uberx became 10% cheaper than a taxi and 30%+ cheaper than Uber black. By the end of the year, the vast majority of Uber’s riders had switched to UberX. Now imagine how quickly everyone will change their habits when presented with an option that is 5x cheaper, with room to go even lower as time goes on…

I do believe a debate about Uber’s long term prospects is appropriate. I think it’s healthy given the vast majority of the news about Uber is focused on what happened this week. When I say long term, I mean within the next 5 years in many cities — not 5+ years. The transition to self driving cars for purchase by consumers will be something that takes a very long time. However, the shift toward them being used in on-demand fleets will come very quickly because the economics will be so attractive to ride sharing companies. It will happen swiftly through market forces regardless of what Uber does to help the drivers. They ought to and (I believe) have a moral obligation to help the drivers, but there’s nothing that can be done to stop this from happening. There are many companies now working on this problem, and the opportunity it presents is massive for both riders and the companies competing to service them.

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