Now Available In San Francisco: Self-Driving Uber

Dec 15, 2016 05:48 AM EST | Joanne Zamora

It was in September when Uber introduced the world's first Self-Driving Ubers to the Steel City. After three months, it partnered with Volvo using Volvo XC90 Self-Driver Uber to San Francisco for $300 million, providing state-of-the-art driving technology with Volvo's outstanding vehicle development and core safety capabilities.

Starting today, anyone can hail an UberX in San Francisco and find themselves in the backseat of a luxury, sensor-packed self-driving car. Passengers who request an UberX in San Francisco will be matched with a Self-Driving Volvo XC90 SUV, if one is available, according to Uber.

Expanding its self-driving pilot allows Uber to continue to improve its technology through real-world operations. Pittsburgh provides a wide array of challenging roads and often varied weather experiences. San Francisco has more bikes on the road, higher traffic density, and narrow lanes.

However, California has some of the strictest autonomous driving rules in the U.S. and the state's DMV does not have Uber included among the companies that have obtained permits to test their vehicles on public roads. California defines autonomous vehicles as cars which drive "without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person."

Uber says that does not apply to self-driving cars, which cannot be driven without a human monitoring from the driver seat, also stating that all of their vehicles are compliant with acceptable federal and state laws. The California DMV urged Uber to obtain an autonomous driving permit.

"The California DMV encourages the responsible exploration of self-driving cars. We have a permitting process in place to ensure public safety as this technology is being tested. Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits to test hundreds of cars on California roads. Uber shall do the same," says a spokesperson, according to The Verge.

At present, Uber is not working toward a vehicle that has no steering wheel, pedals, or need for human driver, rather, it is pursuing technology that provides a significant level of driver assistance while demanding driver oversight, Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber's autonomous effort, told USA Today.

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