Uber self-driving cars to go public, offers rides in Pittsburgh : To ride in a self-driving car will soon be available to Uber customers in Pittsburgh. The first time the technology has been offered to the public.
On Thursday, the company announced that customers will be able to opt into a test program and summon an autonomous Ford Fusion. But since the technology has not been spanking, the self-driving cars will come with human backup drivers to handle any unfavourable situations.
The Uber has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh. The Uber has no immediate plans to deploy self-driving cars in other cities.
In an interview with The Associated Press, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that development of the self driving vehicles is high-priority for the San Francisco company.
He said that we have got to be laser-focused on getting this to market, because it is not a side project for us.
CEO Kalanich said that Without drivers, the cost of hailing a ride will be cheaper than owning a car, changing the way we all get around.
Professor of a University of South Carolina, Bryant Walker Smith who studies self-driving technology, said that By using human backup drivers, Uber is basically testing the technology and taking people along for the ride.
Uber also announced that it was acquiring a startup called Otto. Otto has focused on developing self-driving big rigs and is stocked with big talent in the still-small world of self-driving technology, including Anthony Levandowski, one of the field’s pioneers.
The Uber company announced a $300 million alliance with Volvo to supply vehicles and technology in a another deal.
Walker Smith said that the move of Uber to haul passengers with self-driving vehicles is not surprising.
He said that Pennsylvania has no laws governing autonomous cars and their role in ride-hailing, but Local laws in Pittsburgh may require a driver behind the wheel.
Use of the backup drivers is also an acknowledgement that current self-driving systems cannot handle the wide range of unexpected circumstances on public roads.
A Notre Dame Professor, Timothy Caroner who has written about the future of automation, noted that Uber is reducing the risk with its own drivers.
Uber-branded test cars have been on Pittsburgh roads for several months. Standing at a bus stop, Anthony Fielder of the suburb of Carnegie was open to the idea.
Kalanick would not imagine on when Uber might be ready to separate the human driver, saying that full automation can only be used now in less crowd area.
Carone expects that the competitors of Uber will now accelerate self-driving tests or merger plans. He thinks that the competitors will adopt the same risk-management approach as Uber. For example, earlier this week Ford Motor Co. said that it will have a fully autonomous car with no steering wheel or pedals on the road by the year 2021. The Ford autonomous cars will only be used by car-sharing services and will not be sold to individuals.
Volvo will provide Uber with SUVs for autonomous vehicle research. Eventually the SUVs will be part of the self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh. Both companies will design autonomous vehicles on their own.
Walker Smith said that the real breakthrough for autonomous cars will be, when a company puts one on public roads without a human backup. Like a motorcycle canyon jumper with a safety net, Uber is not ready to take the big leap.