Uber announced that they are planning to test their self-driving cars on the roads of Pittsburgh marking the first ever time that the ride-hailing company will be using driverless cars in an attempt to provide the same service.
Business Insider reported that the people in Pittsburgh will see Ford Fusions driving around the streets these coming weeks. Residents will know that it is the Uber self-driving car as there will be visible battery on the rooftop of the vehicles being used for the test. The cars will also be marked with the word "Uber" and there will be a person in the driver's seat.
Uber said in their statement that the goal for the self-driving cars being rolled out is to collect mapping data and test the capabilities of the vehicles. The trained driver will be in the driver's seat to monitor the operations as the car is in its self-driving mode. These vehicles are also outfitted with sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras in order to map the details of the environment, Quartz reported. The testing also aims to ensure that their driverless cars can deal with cyclists, pedestrians, and other drivers on the road.
Uber said that they are still in the early days of their self-driving venture but in the past, they have pointed out that they want to invest hugely into self-driving technology. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a statement last October that they are not going to resist the future unlike the taxi industry resisting the ride-hailing industry.
Uber has opened their Pittsburgh lab more than a year ago. They chose the area because they pointed out that it is the center of world-class engineering talent and research facilities. The company then went on to have 40 robotics researchers from Carnegie Mellon University.
Uber also said in one of their blog posts that they wanted to develop self-driving technology as it will result to less congestion, fewer lives lost due to car accidents, and affordable and accessible transportation, Auto Blog reported.
Uber is not the only one testing the waters for self-driving cars. Volvo has deployed 100 cars for testing in China and Ford is testing their vehicles in the snow. Driverless taxis from General Motors and Lyft will also be of service to passengers by 2017.
Uber has not yet offered a timeline as to when their self-driving cars will be available to the public.