3 Reasons Why Pittsburgh Has Soured on Uber’s Driverless Cars

May 22, 2017

5:50 pm

What was once a beautiful relationship between the city of Pittsburgh and Uber’s Driverless Car Program has come to a tense halt after nine months as Uber hasn’t held up to their end of the bargain, according to the New York Times.

Pittsburgh was the initial launch city of the driverless car program and was welcomed with open arms by Mayor Peduto and members of the community.

In Uber’s initial statement about launching the driverless car program they said exactly what they intended to do for Pittsburgh:

“Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map, an effort that included creating hundreds of tech jobs and investing hundreds of millions of dollars,” the company said in a statement. “We hope to continue to have a positive presence in Pittsburgh by supporting the local economy and community.”

Read Uber’s diversity report here

Apparently that has changed and here are the reasons why Pittsburgh is sour on Uber’s self-driving car program:

Charging for Rides

During the program, Uber was supposed to have these driverless rides as free, however, the company began to charge for them – even billed Mayor Peduto, oops. On the flip side Uber said they planned to charge all along.

“Travis Kalanick had told me the rides would be free and a service for the public,” Peduto said to the New York Times.

Federal Grant Fail

Pittsburgh applied for a $50 million federal grant to revamp the transportation and Uber withdrew its support.

“[Peduto] asked Uber to commit private funds to enhance the proposal. Uber said that the request had come too late and that the desired amount — $25 million — was too much. Pittsburgh didn’t win the federal competition,” according to Mr. Peduto to the New York Times.

Lack of Jobs

In the Hazelwood neighborhood along the Monongahela River, Uber has a driverless vehicle testing track near the Center of Life church. When Uber was lobbying to place this track in this space, an Uber representative told community leaders they wanted to hire from the neighborhood. According to the Times, the company was given a list of candidates for the positions by Pastor Tim Smith of Center of Life church – to date none have been hired.

Uber’s responded to the Times indicating that they have created 675 jobs in the greater Pittsburgh area, contributed to local charities, and more.

Read more about Uber’s technology and more at Tech.Co

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Tishin is a technology journalist and correspondent. She has written for TechCrunch, Demand Studios and Fitness, and has regular network segments on local Phoenix affiliate stations. She holds a Master's degree in Clinical and Sport psychology, and has covered many areas of technology ranging from 3D printing and game development to neurotech and funding for over 15 years.

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