Uber's Self-Driving Car Experiment Fails Pittsburgh

May 24, 2017 01:00 AM EDT | Rebecca Pearson

Uber inaugurated its self-driving car experiment in September 2016. Pittsburgh became the willing city host as the move was supposed to help open doors for economic and technological prosperity.

Nine months after the established partnership, however, things seem to be taking a turn for the worst. Residents and city officials say the ride-sharing company failed to live up to expectations.

The company made changes to its program from what was originally agreed upon. First, Uber started charging for their driverless car experiment when residents thought this was supposed to be free.

Uber even billed Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's car ride, according to the New York Times. In September, the mayor was the first to hail the entry of Uber's self-driving car in its city. "If you want to be a 21st-century laboratory for technology, you put out the carpet," he said.

Next, Uber withdrew support for the federal grant Pittsburgh applied in its bid to revamp its transportation sector. The city relied on the ride-sharing company to commit some $25 million on top of the $50 million grant. Uber, however, balked.

Uber also failed to create new jobs for its residents when it was supposed to build car testing tracks near a struggling Pittsburgh neighborhood. Tech Co reported no hirings were done since the experiment started.

Experts said there's a huge lesson to learn from this failed partnership in light of other cities' plan to also host Uber's self-driving experiments. There's a conflict between a private business' interests versus a city's needs, according to National Association of City Transportation Officials executive director Linda Bailey, as per CNBC. She cautioned that Uber would like to make money first and foremost.

Pittsburgh did benefit in this partnership in raising its profile as a technologically-advanced town and Uber has been trying to make amends by promising to share data and considering support for local endeavors. Residents, however, remain cautious of its relationship with the company.

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