SAN FRANCISCO — In case anyone still had doubts that Uber sees driverless cars as the future of its business, the company’s CEO just cleared things up.
Speaking Wednesday at Vanity Fair‘s New Establishment Summit in San Francisco, Travis Kalanick said that Uber, which recently began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, is on the path to becoming a robotics company.
The statement came in response to a question about where Uber’s top executive sees the company in next five to seven years. Kalanick, who has previously described Uber as a “logistics company,” said the company was increasingly moving toward becoming a robotics company.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick: “We’re at the very beginning stages of becoming a robotics company” #VFsummit
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) October 20, 2016
“These cars, when they go into self-driving, you’re now starting to become a robotics company so I think we’re at the very beginning stages of becoming a robotics company,” Kalanick said. “We have hundreds of of scientists working on all parts of robotics, self-driving being number one.”
We have hundreds of of scientists working on all parts of robotics
Kalanick also confirmed that the company is currently testing a few of its self-driving cars in the streets of San Francisco, though they are focused on mapping, rather than picking up passengers as those in Pittsburgh do.
“As we move towards the future, autonomy is a pretty critical thing for us — it’s existential,” he said, though he was quick to point out that the technology wouldn’t be ready to replace human drivers entirely for quite awhile.
The CEO also dropped a few new statistics: the ride-hailing app now counts more than 40 million monthly active users around the world. Furthermore, Uber drivers made between $1.5 billion and $2 billion last month, with the average rider spending about $50 a month in the app.
He also addressed a potential IPO, though, as with previous times when the subject has come up, he reiterated that onlookers shouldn’t be expecting one anytime soon.
Noting that his company is only six years old and sounding slightly weary of the question, Kalanick compared Uber to a high school student in its freshman year.
“We just entered the 9th grade, it’s not quite time to go to the prom yet.”
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