Uber Has Started Testing Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh, PA

Posted on Jun 01, 2016

Rideshare giant Uber has made its mark on society with its rideshare app, bringing affordable transportation to cities across the globe. Now, the company, worth more than $60 billion, is setting its sights on a new platform: self-driving vehicles.

Why Uber Entered the Self-Driving Car Race

Uber has met its share of lawsuits regarding accidents — and assaults — involving Uber drivers. In many of the accidents, human error is to blame; Uber believes the self-driving car concept can alleviate many of those crashes. According to Uber's blog post announcing its test cars, approximately 1.3 million people die in traffic accidents annually. As many as 94 percent of these crashes may have resulted from human error.

Uber is promoting the self-driving car concept as a safety measure, but also as a way to increase access to vehicle services. A self-driving car fleet would not require human employees, allowing more cars to be on the road at all hours of the day and without the cost of paying a driver.

Uber Begins Testing Self-Driving Cars

To facilitate the development and testing of self-driving cars, Uber set up its Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. This center is the hub of all self-driving car research, development, and testing. The streets of Pittsburgh saw their first self-driving Uber car on May 19th as Uber’s modified Ford Fusion hybrid began its first real world tests.

The car uses radar, laser scanners, and high-resolution cameras to map its surroundings in real-time. Currently, a human driver must be behind the wheel while the car is in self-driving mode. This is because the car will switch to driver-control mode if it detects a car swerving into its lane or any other unknown obstacle or scenario.

Uber chose Pittsburgh for its engineers and research facilities, as well as for its weather conditions and complex roads. If Uber's vehicle can perfect driving in this environment, it should be able to apply those skills in any other U.S. city.

Competition for Self-Driving Cars May Lead to Safer Roads

Uber is just one of several big companies invested in self-driving cars. Tesla already has prototype systems in play in their newer models, and Google is expanding their test fleets to other U.S. cities. Currently, Google has their self-driving vehicles in use on the streets of Kirkland.

The number one reason for these companies to develop these cars is safety. Human error is the cause of many traffic accidents in the United States, and the replacement of human drivers with technology is one way to remove the dangers of distracted and impaired driving. When self-driving cars take over, Uber's system looks to provide a fleet of for-hire cars, while Google and Tesla seem to be aiming for consumer-owned cars. 

Even after self-driving cars become a common staple on our roads, we must rely on safe driving practices and hope others follow suit. If you suffer serious injury in a traffic accident with a negligent driver, call Max Meyers Law PLLC for help with your claim.

Contact us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation regarding your right to recovery after a traffic accident: 425-399-7000.

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Max is a Kirkland personal injury attorney handling cases in Seattle, King County & surrounding in WA State.