Driverless Cars

Uber Says Self-Driving Rides Coming ‘Later This Month’

Pittsburgh will have about 100 self-driving Uber cars on the roads in the next few weeks

Driverless Cars
Uber's new driverless Volvo is ready to drive you home from the bar — REUTERS
Aug 18, 2016 at 10:29 AM ET

Look out, Pittsburgh’s drivers and pedestrians! Self-driving cars are coming to your roads soon, thanks to Uber.

The ride-sharing app company told Bloomberg that Uber users in downtown Pittsburgh will be able to hail self-driving cars “later this month.” That seems shockingly soon for a technology that is believed to be a few years away from being truly road-ready, but Uber will have humans in the driver’s seat to supervise everything and take the wheel if necessary.

If you want to take a ride in a driverless car for yourself, you’ll have to get lucky: the driverless cars are assigned to customers at random, Bloomberg reports. If you do end up in a driverless car, your ride will be free. You’ll be riding in one of 100 Volvo SUVs fitted with all the sensors, lasers, and other robot tech necessary to keep you from plunging into the Allegheny River in a cold metal robot tomb.

Pittsburgh may seem like an odd choice for the first city to test out Uber’s new driverless car fleet, but it’s actually the home of Carnegie Mellon University with its Robotics Institute, from where Uber poached 40 researchers for its Advanced Technologies Center. In May, Uber began testing its first driverless cars on Pittsburgh’s roads, though these cars weren’t picking up passengers.

Of course, Uber isn’t spending all of this money and doing all of this work to further scientific progress: The sooner it can get fully autonomous self-driving cars on the road, the sooner it can get rid of all those pesky and costly non-employee contractor drivers who keep trying to unionize.