Taxi hailing startup Uber’s autonomous driving research now seems to be in full swing, with the first set of test mules apparently having hit the public roads in the city of Pittsburgh.
A Ford sedan bearing the words “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” on its side and a large sensor module including LIDAR on its roof was spotted driving through the city recently.
An Uber spokesperson confirmed to Pittsburgh Business Times that the vehicle was part of its early research efforts on mapping, safety and autonomy systems.
The city of Pittsburg is also where Uber announced it would setup its advanced technologies centre back in February, when it detailed its autonomous driving research project.
Uber’s entry into the autonomous driving field is hardly surprising, given that the biggest cost of running a taxi is paying someone to drive it, and removing that person will benefit the company and consumers massively.
“The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car — you’re paying for the other dude in the car,” said Travis Kalnik, CEO of Uber. He added that, taking an Uber will become cheaper than owning your own car once the driver is taken out of the equation.
The odd bit about Uber building its own self-driving car technology is that Google, which is a leading investor in the startup, is doing the exact same. While this puts both companies in the position of competition, it also highlights the type of relationship they share.
image source: Pittsburgh Business Times