Uber will be introducing its first self-driving car onto the streets of Pittsburgh for test runs in the coming weeks.
The ride-hailing company announced Thursday that their self-driving Ford Fusion hybrid will come equipped with sensors developed by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University. It will also have laser scanners, radars and high-resolution cameras to collect mapping data.
Though the car is autonomous, a human will be seated in the driver’s seat to monitor the car’s operations. The car will not be ferrying passengers as they are currently focusing on “getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road.” Uber has notified local officials and law enforcement of their plans. Their statement reads:
“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.”
Uber, which is estimated to be worth $62.5 billion, hasn’t stated how human drivers will fit into the company’s future. In 2015, Uber reportedly had 162,037 “active drivers” who had completed a minimum of four or more trips. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick seems to envision a future of autonomous cars for the company. The statement continued:
“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.”
Though Uber admits that their self-driving technology is still in its early days, there is progress evident by their test runs. According to the Wall Street Journal, Uber plans to launch a fleet of autonomous vehicles by 2020.
Uber isn’t the only company doing test runs on self-driving cars either. Google recently put out a for-hire ad in search for “vehicle safety specialists” to babysit their self-driving cars.