Uber, the international transportation company, has never been one to shy from experimenting and taking business head-on. That’s why its work in developing self-driving cars hasn’t been exactly a secret.
You only need to rewind to a couple of months ago when the company announced its project of create autonomous vehicles, if you want to be surprised about the fact that Uber has already got one of its research cars driving around the streets of Pittsburgh.
Spotting the car wasn’t very difficult, seeing as the company had the words “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” announcing its origins in big letters on one side. On the roof, witnesses saw a sort of box containing electronic components.
First local report came from The Pittsburgh Business Times, noting a circular movement of the device found at the very top of the car. Speculations attribute it to a LIDAR sensor that rotates in order to map the immediate surroundings of the vehicle.
Even though the LIDAR components are identical to those found on Google’s self-driving vehicles, Uber’s equipment looks completely different than what we’ve seen so far on the so-called Apple car.
Following the spotting reported in The Pittsburgh Business Times, Uber gave a statement saying this particular vehicle isn’t from the series of self-driving testing autonomous cars.
As for the mysterious car surveying the roads of Pittsburgh, the statement explained it is part of the preliminary research efforts the company is conducting on autonomy systems, mapping features and safety.
So even though this particular car is definitely used in the exploration of autonomous technology, Uber said they are yet far from producing a vehicle that can allow its driver to safely fall asleep at the wheel.
According to the article in The Verge this week, Pittsburgh’s robotics center, Carnegie Mellon University, is the one supporting Uber’s plans for a self-driving car by lending a much-needed helping hand in the form of engineering talent.
Uber has partnered with CMU in order to establish its own research center, and there have been announcements of upcoming plans to rent a land of 53,000 square feet where it will perform its work.
Even though Uber’s research is still advancing with baby steps, it is well-known what the company is trying to achieve. By replacing the 160,000 drivers it currently has driving the company’s cars, Uber hopes to make rides safer, and also reduce some of its top expanses, aka the driver’s salaries.
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