Though we’ve known about Uber’s autonomous vehicle ambitions, especially considering the opening of its Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technology Center more than a year ago, this is the first time the company has publicly admitted testing these vehicles.
In fact, Uber’s John Bares took a Tribune-Review reporter on a ride in one of the company’s Ford Fusion hybrids, which reportedly drove itself for some portions of the trip.
The company also wrote a blog post about it.
Bares said that Pittsburgh provides a perfect testing ground for Uber’s autonomous vehicles because of its snowy and rainy weather, narrow and hilly streets, and outdated infrastructure.
Essentially, if Uber can do it there, they can do it anywhere.
Through a combination of multiple cameras, lasers and sensors, Uber’s self-driving cars can see as far as 100 meters in any direction. Thus far, there have been no crashes with regular cars, according to the company.
Uber is one of a handful of companies, including Google, Lyft, Volvo and Ford, that has joined the Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets, lobbying to the government to rapidly draft legislation for autonomous vehicle penetration while keeping safety top of mind.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said it could have legislation for self-driving cars ready as early as July.
That said, Uber is a relatively new entrant to the space when you remember that Google has been testing its self-driving cars on California streets since 2009.
Bares confirmed that the technology showed off on Wednesday was at an early stage, so don’t expect a driverless Uber to pick you up any time soon.