Uber looking to buy autonomous cars: report

Ride-hailing service Uber had sounded out car companies about placing a large order for self-driving cars, an auto industry source said yesterday, Reuters reported.

"They wanted autonomous cars," the source, who declined to be named, said. "It seemed like they were shopping around."

According to commentators, with the incorporation of self-driving cars into its fleet, the company which was in the red would make drastic savings on its biggest cost.

Volkswagen's Audi, Daimler's Mercedes-Benz, BMW and car industry suppliers Bosch and Continental had all been working on technologies for autonomous or semi-autonomous cars.

Earlier yesterday, Germany's Manager Magazin reported that Uber had placed an order for at least 100,000 Mercedes S-Class cars, citing sources at both companies.

The top-flight limousine, around 100,000 of which Mercedes-Benz sold last year, does not yet have fully autonomous driving functionality.

Reuters cited another source familiar with the matter as saying, no order had been placed with Mercedes-Benz.

According to industry watchers, auto industry executives were not too keen to deal technology and software business companies who threatened established business models based on the manufacture and sale of cars."We don't want to end up like Nokia's handset business, which was once hugely profitable...then disappeared," a second auto industry source said about doing a deal with Uber.

According to commentators, by eliminating the people behind the wheel, Uber would be able to drive down its cost-per-mile price. It would also be able to step away from inconvenient and embarrassing driver issues that had included accusations of assaults on passengers and even murder charges brought against on-duty Uber driver Jason Dalton, who killed six people in Michigan and claimed his Uber app made him do it.

Among the multitude of companies seeking to enter autonomous car tech, Google had made the biggest strides toward its mission of developing a fully self-driving vehicle that did not feature a steering wheel or pedals. It was currently testing its technology with human safety drivers in California, Texas and Washington state.