To varying degrees, we are wrapped up in a technology-driven society. An example is each time a new iPhone model is released, consumers queue outside Apple stores to be the first to get the latest model. But technological advances are moving beyond smartphones and into more complex arenas.

Take, for example, the automobile. BMW recently demonstrated a car that parks itself at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. A specially equipped BMW i3 was parked by a BMW engineer simply by saying into a smart watch, “BMW, go park yourself.” The engineer then gave another command into the watch, “BMW pick me up,” and the car returned to the engineer. The vehicle did not park itself on a street, but in the multi-level garage of a Las Vegas hotel. Certainly, the transition to driverless cars still has some technology hurdles to overcome, including mapping, but experts say these can be resolved within the next five to 10 years.

A benefactor of driverless cars may be the car share companies, such as Uber and Lyft. Last Monday, Uber announced a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to develop driverless car and mapping technology. The Uber Advance Technologies Center will be built near CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center and the partnership will focus on research and development into “mapping and vehicles safety and autonomy technology.”

I was puzzled when I read this info. Google has invested more than $250 million in Uber. I would have anticipated Uber and Google would partner to bring the latest autonomous driving technology to the masses. With this announcement, it appears Uber may be heading into a competitive scenario with one of its largest investors.

Uber has stated they have been working on their own mapping technology and are simply accelerating development. Since many of these relationships are sensitive by nature, and information is closely guarded, we will have to stay tuned to find out more on the evolving relationships between Uber, CMU, and Google.

For more info on the Uber/Carnegie Mellon partnership, visit:

http://techcrunch.com/2015/02/02/uber-opening-robotics-research-facility-in-pittsburgh-to-build-self-driving-cars/

http://blogs.wsj.com/digits/2015/02/02/uber-chases-google-in-self-driving-cars/