Why just hail a self-driving car with your smartphone when you can control one, too?
That may soon be an option if Uber has its way.
As detailed by a patent application published May 25, the company envisions a system that allows a rider to “instruct the autonomous vehicle to perform one or more non-driving operations” via a “mobile computing device.”
That’s right, only non-driving maneuvers are on the table here. So no, you won’t be able to steer the self-driving car with your smartphone. But why would you want to, anyway? If your goal was to drive a car, you wouldn’t be in an autonomous Uber.
And besides, that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of stuff inside the ride to play around with. Think of it this way — with a partially custom-designed vehicle and no human driver at the wheel, who can you ask to dim the cabin lights? Turn on the seat heaters? Blast those sweet tunes?
Your smartphone, that’s who — further rendering the need for human interaction one step closer to obsolete.
Speaking of humans and obsolete, the patent application for some reason uses the graphic of a dinosaur to represent the rider and/or the car. Specifically, it looks like a raptor.
Please excuse the digression, but a patent for a self-driving raptor would be way cooler — smartphone integration or no.
But back to the patent. Allowing users to issue commands to self-driving vehicles via smartphones will one day be an essential part of the rider experience, and Uber clearly has figured that out.
Unfortunately for its investors, the company is struggling to figure out the whole self-driving car thing. Uber is bogged down in a vicious court battle with rival Waymo, while at the same time its autonomous vehicles have trouble driving even a single mile without human intervention.
But hey, riders may one day be able to control a vehicle’s air conditioning from the Uber app. So at least there’s that.