Uber Users In Pittsburgh May Find Themselves In A Self-Driving Car

Photo: Courtesy Volvo.
Uber users in Pittsburgh will get an entirely new (and hopefully more efficient) experience beginning later this month. For the first time, Uber will be testing out autonomous vehicles — self-driving cars — as part of its expanding fleet in the U.S.

That doesn't mean you'll hop into a completely driverless cab, at least for now. There will still be a "driver" behind the wheel in case of an emergency, and a co-pilot in the passenger seat taking notes on a laptop. Cameras inside and outside the car will monitor and record any issues, as well. Other than that, the cars themselves are souped-up Volvo XC90 SUVs outfitted with other sensors such as lasers, GPS devices, and radar. A ding sounds to let the human driver know if they should take the wheel.

According to Bloomberg, Uber has "a handful" of these self-driving cars thus far, but will have 100 by the end of the year.

For Uber users in the Burgh, you'll order Ubers normally using the app, and may get paired with one of these self-driving cars at random. If you do, the trip will be free instead of the city's $1.30 per mile standard rate. Eventually, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick hopes that prices for using these driverless vehicles will fall so low that it will be more economical for us to order Ubers than to drive our own cars, even for long-distance road trips. (And we can't say the prospect of being able to snooze in the backseat the whole time isn't totally appealing.)

For now, though, we're still just in the testing stages. You'll start seeing these cars rolling out later this month, and if all goes well, hopefully we'll see them in more cities next year.
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