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With innovation often comes the casting aside of familiar things—landlines, the simple pleasure of figuring out a map, getting other people to take pictures of you.

But are we ready for a future without cab drivers?

That’s right, no more cabbies. Based on recent news from both Uber and Google, driverless cabs would appear to be our destiny. Last week, Uber, the ride-for-hire company, announced that in partnership with Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU), it will open a research center in Pittsburgh that will focus on, among other things, “autonomy technology”—in other words, driverless cars. The university’s highly-regarded Robotics Institute has been researching autonomous vehicles for years now, and, according to one report, Uber plans to hire dozens of CMU scientists to work in the center.

This shouldn’t come as a big surprise considering that Travis Kalanick, Uber’s CEO, made it clear during a conference last year that he thinks his company’s drivers will one day go away. “The Uber experience is expensive because it’s not just the car but the other dude in the car," he said. "When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost gets cheaper than owning a vehicle.”

What makes Uber’s dive into robotics research that much more intriguing is that one of its biggest investors has been Google, which, of course, has been the pacesetter in the race to develop road-ready driverless cars. Just a year and a half ago, Google invested more than $250 million in Uber, and its chief legal officer is still on Uber’s board of directors. On top of that, Uber’s smartphone app used by its drivers and riders is based on Google Maps.

Tags: #future #technology