Uber’s autonomous Ford Fusion prototypeEnlarge Photo
This month has seen a wave of announcements regarding autonomous cars and its application to ride-sharing.
Not wanting to be left out, ride-sharing giant Uber, which is developing its own autonomous technology, announced on Thursday that its prototypes are about to start testing on public roads in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. According to Uber, Pittsburgh is an ideal environment to develop autonomous cars as it features a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions.
The company has its Advanced Technologies Center located in the city and for the past several months has been conducting tests of its autonomous prototypes, based on the Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] Fusion, at a brownfield site.
Uber not alone in developing autonomous ride-sharing
The next stage, which commences in the coming weeks, will see the prototypes hit public roads. They will be collecting mapping data as well as testing their autonomous capabilities. When in autonomous mode, a trained driver will be in the driver’s seat monitoring operations.
The prototypes are outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment and are running Uber’s own autonomous software systems. To develop the technology, Uber hired some of the world’s top engineers including from nearby Carnegie Mellon University as well as from Ford.
Some of the competition Uber is facing in this regard include Google which is developing its own autonomous car technology and recently launched its own ride-sharing service Waze Rider; General Motors Company [NYSE:GM] which has teamed up with Uber-rival Lyft; and potentially Apple which is thought to be developing its own autonomous technology and earlier this month invested $1 billion in Chinese Uber-rival Didi Chuxing.