Uber is moving ahead with their plans to make self-driving cars from dream to reality. Well, it’s not exactly a dream right now but the technology behind it is still within its very early stages. The company will be moving ahead with their plans by running an experiment in Pittsburgh as it rolls out its first-ever driverless fleet that is already available to everyday customers.
Uber Rolls Out Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh as Part of Tourism
Uber did not specify as to how many self-driving cars will hit the streets of Pittsburgh. However, within the next few weeks, should you be within the area and you use your app, you might have a chance to get one of their driverless vehicles. Bryant Walker Smith, assistant professor at the University of South Carolina, who also monitors law and policy developments with regards to autonomous technology, said the following statement: “Pittsburgh is going to have some self-driving car tourism. That’s exciting for them.”
Even though it is advertised to be self-driving or driverless, the Uber cars will be accompanied by a staff member (which is an engineer or a specially trained driver). That person will become the co-pilot of the vehicle whereas the majority of the driving will be handled by the car. Hence, the car might be driverless, but there is still a human on-board. “If we were putting this in terms of a tightrope walk, there would definitely be a net,” according to Smith.
It is already quite easy to spot self-driving cars, whether from Tesla or Google, within the San Francisco Bay Area. As for other cities, even though they are already on the roads, they are less visible. In fact, for some people, they might be a scary thought considering that the technology is still within its early stages. As a matter of fact, back in early summer, there was already an incident wherein a man died when a Tesla driverless vehicle crashed while still on autopilot.
With this move from Uber with regards to putting their self-driving vehicles within the streets of Pittsburgh might intensify fears, or perhaps it can even lessen them. It should be noted that its mayor is also a regular customer for the service. Now, he, and many others, will be able to experience the new technology firsthand. “Going to the public, and involving them in that conversation, making a safety case for the technology in a very direct, visceral way, is going to help the broader pubic public perceptions of these systems,” Smith states.
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