Here's some interesting news from that other CMU-
Ride-share company Uber and Carnegie Mellon University will develop a research lab in Pittsburgh focused on developing self-driving vehicles and other technologies, company and university officials said Monday.
Self-driving cars are near on the horizon, as Google is working on prototypes and the latest Tesla is nearly self-driving. Uber is looking to keep up with this tech.
What this easily could mean for Uber is getting rid of their ad-hoc cabbies. However, I'm not sure if Uber is the company to be doing this research, unless they are going to change their business model. If Uber is looking to do research into driverless cabs, who is going to own said driverless cabs?
Uber's shtick is putting folks needing a ride in touch with folks willing to provide rides, taking a commission on the fares generated; they charge extra during high-demand periods in order to coax extra supply out of their providers. Uber's bad news for traditional taxi companies (and often banned in big cities where said companies are a force in local politics) but good news by and large for consumers.
If Uber shifts to this robocab model, then they'll have to be making large capital investments in a fleet of robocars-for-rent. That sounds more like a mash-up of a taxi company and a rental-car company. The first rents car and driver on demand while the latter rents just a car.
Advertisement of 2025-"Enterprise; our car will pick you up." Instead of a winsome young staffer driving the car up in the ad (do they double as an escort service?), the robocar comes to get you and comes back when you're done. The line between rental-car and taxi service becomes a matter of length of rental in that universe.
Uber could well be a player in that universe, but where they work with individual car owners to loan out their cars when they're not using them. If my car is sitting in the driveway for the evening, I could sent it out to take someone to the airport or take someone home from the bar and pick up a few bucks while I watch the Pistons game.
However, this research would lean towards Uber owning the cars they're driving rather than borrowing civilian robocars. That's a different business model than the brokering-rides model they're doing now.