Uber’s First Self-Driving Cars Hit the Streets of Pittsburgh
For now, they are only available to the brand’s most loyal customersby Robert Moore, on
Uber is officially on its way to bringing autonomous car rides to the masses with its first fleet of autonomous cars hitting the streets of Pittsburgh. To be clear, this is just a pilot and is only being offered to certain people, with “our most loyal Pittsburgh customers” being cited by the brand in its release earlier today. If you’re in the area, and happen to use Uber enough to be considered one of its most loyal customers, don’t expect an empty car to show up, though. At least, not yet anyway.
For now, there is a safety driver located in the driver’s seat of every Autonomous Uber car. For the most part, however, the car will drive itself unless the driver has to intervene in the case of inclement weather, or other situations that require human intervention. Uber hasn’t announced how many self-driving cars it has set loose on the streets of Pittsburgh, however, TechCrunch reports that there were as many as 14 Ford Fusions with the self-driving technology at the recent press event. And, while it wasn’t mentioned in Uber’s release, some sources are indicating that rides in the autonomous cars are free to the select few Uber users that can summon them.
This move comes about a year and a half after Uber opened its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh. While that makes it a good place for the first fleet of autonomous vehicles to hit the streets, it’s also a city that experiences all four seasons. This makes it a good test bed for refining the technology even further. Just think, humans never seem to remember how to drive when the snow starts flying, so this coming winter should be pretty interesting with a bunch of self-driving Uber cars on the road.
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While this is a pretty big step for Uber, I doubt we’ll see an Uber running around without a driver anytime soon. For now, the human presence is required, and to be honest, I think most will prefer it. Uber seems to have the right idea, however, as it has stated that even once the cars are able to drive completely on their own, there will be a mix of self-driving and piloted Uber vehicles. It also pointed out that since there will be self-driving Ubers on the road 24 hours a day (eventually,) it will open the door for increased employment as the cars will require a lot more human-conducted maintenance. It’s hard to say when the self-driving Uber program will expand, but TechCrunch reports that it will start out in a few select neighborhoods and eventually expand to the airport and northern suburb. As more Uber pre-maps are created, Uber will be able to continue expanding the program throughout the Pittsburgh area.
Are you in the area and happen to be one of Uber’s most loyal customers? If you are, we would love to hear about your experience in our comments section below.