Uber provided a great opportunity for Pittsburgh citizens to feel what it would be like to go by a self-driving car. In September 2016 the company supplied a fleet of autonomously driven Ford Fusions to demonstrate the driverless technology to the group of volunteers who had wished to take part in this unprecedented test program. However, to avoid any possible incidents every car will have an engineer sitting and controlling the process.
This step is another initiative taken by Uber in order to hold the leading position in this rush of introducing self-driving vehicles to the wide public. Unlike other companies in this industry – such as Google, for example – Uber managed to spend far less money on its project and is the first one to offer its product to ordinary people. Today the company is seeking for all possible ways to make transportation more affordable for the general public, as thanks to autonomous vehicles one will have no need to pay for a driver’s services.
In September 2016 the first driverless rides were performed, and a number of ordinary citizens had a chance to feel how smoothly Uber cars drive. Even media reporters tried out this technology stressing the fact that a self-driving car was smartly waiting for other cars to pass by, and only after that the vehicle made a turn. But parking seems to remain one of the weakest sides of the technology, though, and could not be performed autonomously at that moment.
But today even engineers from CMU that Uber is cooperating with are rather skeptical concerning the capability of self-driving cars to be totally reliable in real life. They suppose there is still a great way to go before launching the technology at the market.
Uber driverless technology gone internationally
In August 2016 Uber’s innovations were tested in Singapore, where the commercial enterprise founded by the specialists from MIT decided to use the driverless technology on taxis. Each of these six cars was controlled by human drivers, although no accidents were registered, as NuTonomy states.
To understand why Uber autonomous cars are so highly evaluated by specialists from different countries just take a look what they are equipped with. Each of these vehicles has seven cameras installed to detect traffic lights, as well as a lidar unit that helps a car to drive comfortably in various weather conditions. Moreover, the car is even capable to build a 3D map analyzing the surroundings with twenty laser units that spin all around and provide a 360° picture.
The reason why Uber chose Pittsburgh for this unprecedented testing is rather clear: since 2015 the city has been the company’s research hub and a platform with facilities and specialists needed for this bold driverless initiative. Moreover, the city is located so favorably, and tested self-driving cars can make rides in snowy weather, drive in downtown areas, as well as get experience in other rather challenging road conditions with busy traffic and lots of obstacles on the road. Moreover, Pennsylvania has rather loyal regulations for autonomous vehicles, so testing them here is absolutely legal.
Uber’s expectations about these tests are ambitious. The specialists hope to understand what other improvements need to be made and how they will be able to make such autonomous rides safer and more comfortable for a passenger. What’s more important commercially is that such on-road tests will save money and time for the company to make self-driving vehicles available at the market for general public, which is still cannot be done by Uber’s competitors.