I hailed a car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Campus Tuesday and took a 45-minute ride through the city’s downtown, eastern and northern neighborhoods. I watched as the wheel turned itself, carefully maneuvering us through crowded streets and around other cars and pedestrians.
The two engineers manning the front seats let me “drive” the car back to the Uber campus. Once a light turned blue on the dash, I could hit a silver button in the center console to go autonomous. Braking, accelerating or hitting a red button brought driving back under my control. I took over once to maneuver around a stopped van.
Later, we sat in traffic on yet another bridge. The car started and stopped as we crawled forward a few feet at a time. Sometimes it was gentle, sometimes it came to a lurching halt. It felt a lot like riding in a car with a human driver, right down to the Uber map telling us we had reached our destination.