Uber Launches Autonomous Cars in Pittsburgh
The debut of the self-driving Uber pilot program is the public unveiling of Uber’s secretive work in the autonomous vehicle spectrum and the first time cars that are self-driving have been available so freely to the public in the U.S.
Uber, over two years ago, like many in the business, identified the autonomous car technology as the next stage of transportation growth.
The startup, based in San Francisco already had given the taxi services of the world a scare with its ride-hailing app, has raised millions of dollars in funding and is now valued at more than $68 billion.
It is planning to ultimately replace a number of its drivers that now stand at 1.5 million, with the autonomous vehicles.
However, this start is very small. Just four of the self-driving autos will be available in Pittsburgh to start. Two people will sit up front to take the driving responsibilities over when a vehicle is unable to steer on its own.
The ride-alongs, which are provided by Uber, went out with reporters on Tuesday. On one ride that lasted for close to 60 minutes the car drove safely for the most part by stopping at all red lights, accelerating at the green lights and even moving over for slow drivers, without having a person at the steering wheel.
However, the driver and his engineer from Uber in the front seats did have to intervene every now and then.
Since it opened its Pittsburgh based Advanced Technologies Center last year, Uber has advanced quickly through hiring away over 40 researchers and faculty from the city’s Carnegie Mellon University, which ruffled the feathers of some locals. It also formed partnerships with different automakers including Volvo.
However, Uber is competing in a field with many competitors that is growing each day.
From Baidu to Alphabet to General Motors and Tesla, technology companies as well as automakers are racing to build their own autonomous vehicles along with developing new long term business plans for what is expected to change personal transportation, as we know it today.
By integrating its self driving vehicles with its app for ride hailing or sharing, Uber could become the first to introduce the first line of autonomous cars that many will have down the line.
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