Online cab aggregator Uber will launch its self-driving cars as soon as this month in Pittsburgh, US, reports TechCrunch. The company said it would deploy around 100 modified Volvo XC90s outfitted with self-driving equipment to kick off the project.
To help its autonomous plans, Uber has acquired the self-driving driving truck technology company Otto. The startup was founded by former Googlers Anthony Levandowski, Lior Ron, Don Burnette, and Claire Delaunay, of which Levandowski had led Google’s self-driving car efforts.
Note that Uber’s self-driving cars will be occupied at all times by 2 engineers – one for steering and taking control of the car if needed and the other to observe and take notes. A ‘liquid-cooled’ computer in the trunk will also record trip and map data. Self-driving cars will be bookable to usual way, and consumers lucky enough to get one, will get the ride for free.
The cab aggregator had first released a picture of it’s self driving car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the US, in May this year. The company had said then that the car had a host of sensors including radars, laser scanners and high res cameras to map its environment.
Uber & self-driving tech:
Uber also tied up with Toyota in May this year, agreeing to collaborate on autonomous technology for cars. The company had initially opened a robotics research lab in Pittsburgh in 2015 to “kickstart autonomous taxi fleet development.” Around the same time Uber hired as many as 40 researchers and engineers from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), leaving the University to help make a new plan for its future.
The race for autonomous cars in the US:
– Most recently, Google, Uber, Lyft, Volvo and Ford created a coalition called The Self-Driving Coalition for Safer Streets to influence lawmakers, regulators and the public with respect to autonomous vehicle technology.
– Earlier this month, Apple pumped in $1 billion in Didi Chuxing (formerly known as Didi Kuaidi) to understand the Chinese market and make future collaborations. Apple would merge some products into Didi, while also partner with other companies for self driving cars.
– Volkswagen invested $300 million in Gett, a ridesharing and taxi service company.
– Ford showed off its self drive car which sees at night last month.
– In January, General Motors invested $500 million in Lyft, Uber’s US competitor, for developing autonomous vehicle networks.
Image Credit: Uber