Last month, we told you that Uber had plans to launch a fleet of self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, kicking off a slew of real-world tests for the system developed by its Advanced Technology Center. At the time, the tests were said to begin before the end of August, but we entered September without any word of self-driving Uber cars arriving to pick up passengers. Despite showing up a little late to the party, Uber has announced that its real-work tests of self-driving technology begin today in Pittsburgh.
Obviously, Uber‘s self-driving technology is still pretty far from perfect, which is why these new cars will still pick up riders with a “safety driver” behind the wheel. The cars themselves will do as much of the heavy lifting as possible, but the safety driver is there to take over should the need arise, during particularly tricky driving segments or periods of inclement weather.
This sparks the beginning of a long road for Uber. The company has made its ambitions for a self-driving fleet of cars obvious in the past, but Uber’s existing human drivers may not necessarily need to worry about a future where they’re replaced by autonomous vehicles. In a blog post announcing the roll out of these self-driving cars, Uber said it believes “ridesharing will be a mix — with services provided by both drivers and Self-Driving Ubers,” as we move into the future, pointing to the limits of self-driving technology.
So, if you happen to be in the Pittsburgh area, keep an eye out for these self-driving Uber cars prowling the streets. If you request an Uber ride and one of these cars is available, it’ll be sent out to pick you up, but otherwise you can expect the traditional UberX experience.