This could signal the eventual end for human drivers at Uber.
The race is on to develop the tech for an autonomous ridesharing service, and Uber is gunning for the lead by launching a self-driving test vehicle in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Sporting an array of laser scanners, cameras, and radar, the custom Ford Fusion Hybrid is there to map the city’s streets and engineer driverless systems.
As the current leader among ridesharing apps in the U.S, it seems natural for Uber to create its on autonomous technology. From a business perspective, launching the service could mean the firm wouldn’t need to hire human drivers someday. The vehicles could roam the streets 24 hours a day and only need to stop to refuel. “In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents,” the business says in this project’s announcement.
Rather than following the trend of centering autonomous tech’s development in Silicon Valley, Uber headquarters its self-driving work at the company’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. The business claims the city "is an ideal environment to develop and test our technology across a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns, and weather conditions.”
Uber isn’t alone in wanting to create an autonomous ridesharing service because Google also reportedly has the tech under development. It could mean a future where you request a ride on an app and a driverless pod arrives to take you away.
Steel City’s New Wheel
If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.
The car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, will be collecting mapping data as well as testing its self-driving capabilities. When it’s in self-driving mode, a trained driver will be in the driver’s seat monitoring operations. The Uber ATC car comes outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.
Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world. 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission to make transportation as reliable as running water — everywhere and for everyone.
While Uber is still in the early days of our self-driving efforts, every day of testing leads to improvements. Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road — pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. We’ve informed local officials and law enforcement about our testing in Pittsburgh, and our work would not be possible without the support we’ve received from the region’s leaders.
“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.”
William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh
Uber chose the Steel City as the home of our Advanced Technologies Center because of its world-class engineering talent and research facilities. Pittsburgh is an ideal environment to develop and test our technology across a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions. The city’s long history of innovation continues today as it helps us shape the future of transportation.