A year and a half ago, Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh. Its mission: to make self-driving Ubers a reality. Today, Uber announced that the world’s first Self-Driving Ubers are now on the road in the Steel City.
The new Self-Driving Uber isn’t really driverless. Uber has a real driver in the car for safety to ensure the ride goes smoothly.
The San Francisco-based company said that self-driving Ubers have enormous potential to further its mission and improve society by reducing the number of traffic accidents, which today kill 1.3 million people a year. Self-driving cars can also free up the 20 percent of space in cities currently used to park the world’s billion plus cars; and cutting congestion, which wastes trillions of hours every year.
Self-Driving Ubers have a safety driver in the front seat because they require human intervention in many conditions, including bad weather. Even when these technology issues get fixed, the company says ridesharing will be a mix—with services provided by both drivers and Self-Driving Ubers. This is because of the limits of self-driving software and the skyrocketing demand for better transportation which people-powered transport is uniquely able to solve.