Uber’s Self-Driving Taxi Service Makes Public Debut In Pittsburgh

The future is here today! Uber debuted its self-driving taxi service this morning in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At first, there will be four self-driving vehicles, each with two people occupying the front seats. A human driver will be behind the steering wheel just in case things get dicey and he or she needs to take over.

Uber offered tag-along-rides to news reporters on Tuesday. According to Reuter’s reporter Heather Sommerville, “During a ride of about one hour, Reuters observed the Uber car safely - and for the most part smoothly - stop at red lights and accelerate at green lights, travel over a bridge, move around a mail truck and slow for a driver opening a car door on a busy street. All without a person touching the controls.”

uber ford fusion

Uber’s vehicles are modified Ford Fusions that include a 3D camera, GPS, and lidar, which uses lasers to determine the shape and distance of objects. Uber plans to also add a fleet of Volvo XC90 SUVs.

These tests have already led to heaps of controversy. The state of Pennsylvania has yet to pass any laws concerning self-driving cars or decide upon a procedure in case the vehicle should crash. Uber is also not required to divulge any data from its vehicles. Uber did, however, work closely with state of Pennsylvania regulators before beginning the tests.

camera on top of vehicle

Many have argued that these first passengers will be guinea pigs put into dangerous situations. Several self-driving cars have been thrown off bridges and Pittsburgh has the most bridges of any United States major city. The Reuters reporter also noted that the two Uber employees did need to interfere with the self-driving vehicle several times to avoid an accident.

Others believe that Uber’s test is incredibly positive. Some have argued that this technology would not be possible if companies continuously had to wait for government permission. They also claim that self-driving vehicles will greatly reduce the 37,000 Americans who die in car crashes every year.

ford fusion inside

Uber will soon face some stiff competition. Everyone from Google to Tesla is working on creating a self-driving cars. Even Apple is at least dabbling in self-driving vehicle software with its secretive “Project Titan”.