Customers will be assigned the self-driving cars at random.
Most people know Uber as the ride-sharing service that employs drivers to bring passengers from point A to B, but the company will soon roll out its self-driving Uber cars.
Bloomberg reports that Uber’s first self-driving fleet of cars will arrive in Pittsburgh this month (August 2016), consisting of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility cars, featuring dozens of sensors using cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers.
For the time being, Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet of cars will be supervised by a human in the driver’s seat.
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Why Pittsburgh? Pittsburgh is home to Carnegie Mellon University, which has an impressive robotics department. Uber didn’t officially partner up with Carnegie Mellon, but Uber co-founder and CEO Travis Kalanick flew out to Pittsburgh in order to hire dozens of world experts in autonomous vehicles and software development.
Now, Uber is positioning itself ahead of Google, widely seen as the leader in self-driving car technologies, and Tesla Motors, since neither company has brought a self-driving fleet of cars to the market yet. Earlier this week, Ford announced its plans to bring a self-driving car fleet to the roads by 2021, again, showing just how far ahead of the game Uber is.
However, the difference between Uber and the rest of the companies working towards fleets of self-driving cars is that Uber has no plans to manufacture its own cars. Rather, the company will partner up with other auto manufacturers to offer its autonomous ride-sharing service.
Starting sometime this month, Uber customers will be able to summon Uber rides from their phones as usual, but the self-driving cars will be sent to customers at random. The company says, for now, the rides will be free of charge.
In conclusion, Kalanick tells Bloomberg, “If Uber wants to catch up to Google and be the leader in autonomy, we have to have the best minds.”
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