For the past year, rumors have been swirling that Uber is getting into the game of self-driving cars. The company opened the Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, where journalists spotted a vehicle that looked suspiciously like a driverless one marked with the Uber logo. This week, the company officially announced in a press release they are testing a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh.
The car is a hybrid Ford Fusion, and while it has “self-driving capabilities,” a driver will be present to take over if needed. Along with testing its autonomous function, the car will collect data for maps. According to Uber, the vehicle has been equipped with “a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.”
Uber allowed Pittsburgh Tribune-Review journalist Aaron Aupperlee to take a ride. He said, “The car’s sensors detected parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists, and a goose crossing River Avenue.”
The transportation networking giant claims they still have a long way to go, but that they’ve received support from Pittsburgh city leaders including the mayor, who expressed excitement that Uber is pursuing innovative technology in his city. Uber said the city environment in Pittsburgh is the perfect place to test out their self-driving car, since it has to face challenges such as snow, hills, and narrow roads.
While many have focused on the developments coming out of leaders like Google and Tesla in the self-driving car sphere, The Verge reports many experts are actually following Uber’s progress as they stand to benefit more as a company from autonomous technology.
In their press release heralding the Pittsburgh test car, Uber said self-driving vehicles could save millions of lives, claiming, “1.3 million people die every year in car accidents – 94 percent of those accidents involve human error.”
Via The Verge