Uber Wants in on Self-Driving Cars Too

Feb 03, 2015 11:00 AM EST | Jordan Ecarma

The auto industry says it's speeding toward a world where cars drive themselves, and Uber apparently wants to be part of that future.

The San Francisco-based ride-sharing service has teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University for a research lab in Pittsburgh that will research autonomous vehicles, the Associated Press reported.

The collaboration will let Uber work with CMU faculty, staff and students to conduct research and development work in mapping as well as car safety and auto-pilot capability, Uber said in a company blog post.  

"We are excited to join the community of Pittsburgh and partner with the experts at CMU, whose breadth and depth of technical expertise, particularly in robotics, are unmatched," Jeff Holden, Uber chief product officer, said in a statement.

TechCrunch earlier reported that Uber has hired more than 50 scientists who come from Carnegie Mellon as well as its associate National Robotics Engineering Center. The lab will be built near the engineering center, which is in the Lawrenceville neighborhood of the Pennsylvania city.

The core technology, vehicles and infrastructure at the Pittsburgh lab will come from Uber, sources told TechCrunch. The ride-sharing company has not yet publicly outlined goals for when self-driving Uber cars could be an option for customers.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has said that the app-based service will be less expensive whenever autonomous cars are a reality.

 "The Uber experience is expensive because it's not just the car but the other dude in the car," he said last year at a technology conference, as quoted by Bloomberg Business. "When there's no other dude in the car, the cost [of taking an Uber] gets cheaper than owning a vehicle."

Boasting a valuation of $41 billion, Uber has spread from its home California market to 200 cities in 54 countries.

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