Uber tests first self-driving car in Pittsburgh

The self-driving car race is heating up, and among the ride-hailing contingent, Uber appears to have pulled into the lead.

The company’s first self-driving car is hitting the road in Pittsburgh in the coming weeks, Uber announced Thursday in a blog post. The souped-up hybrid Ford Fusion will be collecting mapping data and testing its self-driving capabilities, all with a trained driver behind the wheel to monitor the car’s performance.

Steel City residents likely won’t have any trouble recognizing the car — it’s marked with the Uber logo and is outfitted with high-tech gadgets including radar sensors, laser scanners and cameras.

While Uber says it’s still in the early days of testing, it appears to be the first ride-hailing company to get an autonomous car on the road. Earlier this month Lyft announced a plan to have self-driving electric cars on public roads within a year, via a partnership with General Motors. And Apple’s recent $1 billion investment in Chinese ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing has led to speculation about how the deal could advance Apple’s secretive Project Titan self-driving car project. Meanwhile, autonomous Google cars continue to zip around the streets of Mountain View, and Tesla is expected to debut its own model in the next few years.

Uber says self-driving cars could save lives.

“1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error,” the company wrote in its blog post. “In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents.”

The company says it chose Pittsburgh because of the city’s strong engineering talent and research facilities — and it’s an ideal environment to test the self-driving car on a variety of road types, traffic patters and weather conditions.

Photo: Uber’s self-driving car is hitting the road in Pittsburgh. (Uber)


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  • alrui

    Wait till the deaths start to happen!