May 20, 2016
Uber has revolutionized the transportation game on more than one occasion. Whether it be their simple ride-sharing service or their unique logo change, you would be hard-pressed to go a single day without seeing Uber in the news. But now, Uber is making waves in the self-driving car market, and the move is a total “steel.”
That’s right, the Uber self-driving car is officially on the road in Pittsburgh, the Steel City. While Uber is merely testing out their technology, these hybrid Ford Fusions, equipped with an impressive array of sensors, will be viewable around the city. The car will be collecting mapping data with radar, laser scanners, and 22 high resolution cameras while testing the driving capabilities in the Pennsylvania city.
“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation,” said William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh. “Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.”
Don’t worry, there will be a driver behind the wheel during these tests. They will be tasked with keeping track of the mechanisms in place as well as taking over in the event of a malfunction. The main focus of these tests is to guarantee safety for everyone outside of the car, like pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.
The importance of this technology is more than obvious. 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents and 94% of those accidents involve human error. As one of the largest killers in this country, finding a solution to automobile fatalities could make a huge impact of the quality of life around the world.
But why Pittsburgh? Skilled and innovative entrepreneurs, unpredictable weather patterns and more traffic than you can shake a stick at.
“We have the world’s best test site right at our doorstep,” said John Bares, head of Uber’s Pittsburgh lab. “We view it as, it’s not quite Everest, but it’s a hard mountain … but the beautiful thing is we do have that mountain right out of our front door to climb.”
Will you be able to take a self-driving car from Uber if you head to Pittsburgh to take in a Steelers game this fall? Unlikely. As the testing phases are only now kicking off, it could be a while before you are able to jump into one of this Batmobile-esque driving machines. But keep your eyes out in the Steel City and you might spot one of these monuments to automobile technology.
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