Uber announced Wednesday that the world’s first Self-Driving Ubers are now on the road in the Steel City. A year and a half ago, Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh with the aim of making self-driving Ubers a reality.
Pittsburgh customers can experience this “future first,” said Uber. Customers can hail a cab as usual, and if a Self-Driving Uber is available, the company will send it along with a safety driver up front to make sure the ride goes smoothly. Otherwise it’s uberX as usual.
This pilot is a big step forward for the company. Real-world testing is critical to the success of this technology, and creating a viable alternative to individual car ownership is important to the future of cities, Uber said.
“We know that many drivers will have questions about this technology. It’s still very early: Self-Driving Ubers have a safety driver in the front seat because they require human intervention in many conditions, including bad weather,” said Anthony Levandowski Founder, Otto and VP, Self-Driving Technology, Uber, in a blog post.
“Even when these technology issues get fixed, we believe ridesharing will be a mix—with services provided by both drivers and Self-Driving Ubers. This is because of the limits of self-driving software and the skyrocketing demand for better transportation which people-powered transport is uniquely able to solve,” he added.
Uber recently acquired self-driving startup Otto, and is partnering with Volvo on an autonomous car project.