Uber couldn’t let its competitor Lyft have the spotlight for one more second. In what appears to be a direct response to yesterday’s story that GM and Lyft started testing self-driving Bolt EV prototypes in San Francisco, Uber sent out a press release today to confirm starting self-driving car tests on the streets of Pittsburgh.
The car-sharing company is using the hybrid Ford Fusion equipped with a massive sensor suite rigged on top for its tests.
It’s probably the biggest sensor suite of any self-driving car prototype I’ve seen so far.
The company describes the sensors in the press release:
“The Uber ATC car comes outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.”
There’s no word on when Uber could bring its technology to market, but recent reports suggest that the company might be looking into buying hundreds of thousands of autonomous vehicles or even design/build its own vehicles. Last year, Uber hired an automotive designer who worked on “classified” concepts for Tesla.
Here’s the full press release:
Steel City’s New Wheels
If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.
The car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, will be collecting mapping data as well as testing its self-driving capabilities. When it’s in self-driving mode, a trained driver will be in the driver’s seat monitoring operations. The Uber ATC car comes outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.
Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world. 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents — 94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission to make transportation as reliable as running water — everywhere and for everyone.
While Uber is still in the early days of our self-driving efforts, every day of testing leads to improvements. 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. We’ve informed local officials and law enforcement about our testing in Pittsburgh, and our work would not be possible without the support we’ve received from the region’s leaders.
“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.”
William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh
Uber chose the Steel City as the home of our Advanced Technologies Center because of its world-class engineering talent and research facilities. Pittsburgh is an ideal environment to develop and test our technology across a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions. The city’s long history of innovation continues today as it helps us shape the future of transportation.