Uber aims to make transportation ‘as reliable as running water’

Kalanick tells Dreamforce conference he wants to make Uber cheaper than owning a car

Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick on stage at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Photo: Jakub Mosur Photograph

Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff and Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick on stage at Salesforce.com’s Dreamforce conference in San Francisco. Photo: Jakub Mosur Photograph

 

Uber wants to make “transportation as reliable as running water,” its chief executive Travis Kalanick told Salesforce. com’s Dreamforce conference.

Speaking on stage with Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff, Mr Kalanick told conference attendees Uber is averaging “thousands of rides” per minute, adding that he wants autonomous cars to be part of the future, to reduce traffic congestion and car crashes.

On the heels of Uber’s $5.5 million donation to Carnegie Mellon University to create a centre for robotics and driverless car technologies, Kalanick told the conference there is “a lot of promise” in a robot-driven future.

“In the US alone, there are 30,000 people dying in car accidents every year. What if it was zero? That’s part one. Part two is what happens if there’s no traffic. If you have algorithms driving instead of people, it’s safer,” he said.

“With Uber, you can see that (artificial intelligence) is a disruptor, but are you going to be a part of the future or resist it? We don’t want to be like the taxi industry before us,” he added.

Mr Kalanick said a lot of interesting things will happen when driverless cars exist.

For the moment though, his focus is on making Uber cheaper than owning a car, and helping drivers predict where demand will be.

“If we can make Uber cheaper than owning a car, you no longer have parking problems or congestion problems. You help pollution.”

He said the company is getting “more and more” into predicting demand.

“We have to predict demand to match it with supply….we ask how much demand is going to be in this neighbourhood in the next 15 minutes.”

“Drivers have a heatmap on the app which shows where demand is going to be. It doesn’t just show real time demand.”

As for Uber’s future, he said: “it’s a little bit foggy and we don’t know where it’s going, but we’re psyched.”

Uber announced the introduction of business profiles at the conference, a new addition to the company’s app which aims to simplify company expenses, and make it easier for users to charge trips to their business account.

“Dreamforce is the perfect venue to release this because there’s 100,000 business travellers all in one place at the same time,” Uber’s Greg Greiner said.

“There’s a big fear around charging personal trips to your work card and having to explain that to your company,” he added.