Uber Testing Self-Driving Cars on Challenging Pittsburgh Streets
NEWS ANALYSIS: Initial testing will be under carefully controlled conditions and are primarily focused on performance data gathering along with route mapping.Uber, the ride-sharing company, has started testing its first four self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh's challenging urban streets. Uber chose Pittsburgh as the location of its testing program. Its Advanced Technology Center is located in that city. It's not a coincidence that Carnegie–Mellon University, a center for some of the most innovative research on artificial intelligence, machine learning and now autonomous vehicles, is also located in Pittsburgh. The first four self-driving test vehicles are modified Ford Fusion hybrid cars that include a variety of sensors, such as 20 cameras, seven lasers and three inertial measurement units. The cars are also outfitted with custom computing resources and data storage. The vehicle also has 360-degree radar coverage, according to an Uber press release. While the Uber cars are touted as being self-driving, each one will have two Uber employees occupying the front seats. One is trained to drive the Uber car, which has specialized controls, and the other is an engineer who will take notes and help solve problems.
Uber is opening up rides only to a specific list of loyal customers. Uber said in a press release that Pittsburgh was the perfect city because of its narrow winding streets and unpredictable weather. It’s worth noting that Pittsburgh has more bridges than any other U.S. city, and bridges have been challenging for autonomous vehicles in earlier test programs.