Uber Technologies Inc. confirmed that its self-driving car is now on the road. The company is using a Ford Fusion, fully rigged with all of the autonomous technology high res cameras, radars, and laser scanners. It is currently driving around in Pittsburgh. The car will travel in self-driving mode and in normal mode, but a human will be in the driver’s seat at all times.
Uber developed the technology in a partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. The self-driving equipment was built and set up at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center. Uber reported:
“Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road — pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers.”
Aside from testing the vehicle and making sure that everything is working correctly, Uber will be collecting mapping data. During mapping data collection, a human will drive the car without autonomy. Uber hasn’t clarified if the mapping data will be used for aspects of the autonomous driving technology, or if the company is intending to use it for a navigation app. However, Uber recently purchased deCarta, a mapping software maker.
Car hailing companies are now on the fast track as competition is mounting. GM, along with Lyft and Cruise Automation, is working to get self-driving Bolt EVs on the road. This week, a pair were spotted driving in San Francisco. Google, an Uber investor, has been all over autonomous technology and various partnerships are in the works.
Apple just invested $1 billion in China’s most substantial car hailing company, Didi Chuxing. Didi’s success in China far exceeds Uber. The Chinese company is also partnered with Lyft and others in multiple countries, in an attempt to trump Uber elsewhere.