Uber unleashes experimental self-driving car on streets of Pittsburgh

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Ride hailing company Uber confirmed Thursday that it is testing a self-driving, hybrid Ford Fusion on the streets of Pittsburgh, bringing the ride-sharing giant one step closer to an autonomous future.




Saddled with a large black apparatus reminiscent of a surface-to-air missile launcher, the car from Uber's Advanced Technologies Center will be collecting mapping data as well as testing its self-driving capabilities in the Steel City. It comes outfitted with a variety of sensors, including radars, laser scanners and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment. But it won't be alone: a human will be in the driver's seat "monitoring operations."

Uber is still in the early days of its self-driving efforts. It says it's currently focused on getting the technology right and ensuring the safety of pedestrians, cyclists and other drivers. The company has warned local officials and law enforcement about its testing.

Home to Uber's Advanced Technology Center, Pittsburgh was an obvious choice for pilot. Uber also thinks the city is a good environment in which to test self-driving cars, with its variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions.

Apple has been widely rumored for some time now to be working on its own automotive initiative, dubbed "Project Titan." It is reportedly eyeing an 800,000 square foot property for the project in the San Francisco Bay Area, and most recently, it made a billion-dollar investmentin Didi Chuxing, which some have seen as further evidence of its ambitions in the automotive area. Didi is a direct competitor of Uber and controls the Chinese ride-hailing market just as Uber dominates in the West.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    irelandireland Posts: 17,547member
    Or Uber does publicity stunt to get more investors on board with a view to eventually acquiring the knowledge to build a self-driving car.

    Uber CEO is kind of slimey and it's I'm sure a major reason why Apple aren't interested in partnering with them and instead went with Didi: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/11/technology/uber-fake-ride-requests-lyft/ I doubt the fact that Digi is larger is the reason at all. When Apple says the companies have similar philosophies they are I believe sincere.
    edited May 2016 patchythepirate
  • Reply 2 of 19
    joshajosha Posts: 901member
    Two social problems here.
    Self driving cars have a long way to go to be accepted here. Also I expect driverless cars will NEVER be accepted.
    Uber will NEVER be accepted here as a trusted cab company, unless they comply with taxi regulations.
    -End of story here!   :#
  • Reply 3 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    I HATE Uber and their slime ball owners.
    They're getting their ass kicked in the province of Quebec and rightly so. They respect no laws and use that fact in their business plan.
    First they were high and mighty and now their groveling like little babies.
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 4 of 19
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 30,837member
    People who drive for a living won't have much of a career left unless they offer something really different, like super valet service.
  • Reply 5 of 19
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    josha said:
    Two social problems here.
    Self driving cars have a long way to go to be accepted here. Also I expect driverless cars will NEVER be accepted.
    Uber will NEVER be accepted here as a trusted cab company, unless they comply with taxi regulations.
    -End of story here!  
    on your second point -- the comments in New Orleans indicate people are tired of our crappy cab companies who have lied and broken the rules (give no arrival estimates, routinely refuse local fares, fought credit card machines, lie about credit card machines, etc) for decades, and are welcoming uber. I'm one of them. I don't care for uber' corporate leadership, but their service model is the right one. 
    edited May 2016 patchythepirate
  • Reply 6 of 19
    sirlance99sirlance99 Posts: 1,142member
    josha said:
    Two social problems here.
    Self driving cars have a long way to go to be accepted here. Also I expect driverless cars will NEVER be accepted.
    Uber will NEVER be accepted here as a trusted cab company, unless they comply with taxi regulations.
    -End of story here!   :#
    Taxi's and taxi regulations suck. I'm a big advocate for Uber and others like them. It's pretty much how I and everyone else get around when we need a ride for various reasons. "Hey, get an Uber" is the only thing I hear now days. Never "Hey, let's get a taxi".
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 7 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    josha said:
    Two social problems here.
    Self driving cars have a long way to go to be accepted here. Also I expect driverless cars will NEVER be accepted.
    Uber will NEVER be accepted here as a trusted cab company, unless they comply with taxi regulations.
    -End of story here!  
    on your second point -- the comments in New Orleans indicate people are tired of our crappy cab companies who have lied and broken the rules (give no estimates, routinely refuse local fares, fought credit card machines, lie about credit card machines, etc) for decades, and are welcoming uber. I'm one of them. I don't care for uber' corporate leadership, but their service model is the right one. 
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.
  • Reply 8 of 19
    barthrhbarthrh Posts: 86member
    foggyhill said:
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.
    Conform to what? The archaic and corrupt taxi regulations in cities across North America? To the enrichment of the cities with artificial fees, or of the badge owners who sit on the beach holding badges while drivers need to earn hundreds of dollars before they see a penny of profit? The current taxi model is rotten to the core. The solution isn't to make the new like the old, but put a bullet in the old.

    We should intervene no more in saving the current taxi structure than we did saving DVD rental shops. Cities pretend to defend the drivers and their investments, but it's all about their own pockets and connections with the taxi industry. Taxis are a business. The business environment has changed.
    edited May 2016 patchythepiratenolamacguy
  • Reply 9 of 19
    VisualSeedVisualSeed Posts: 217member
    foggyhill said:
    on your second point -- the comments in New Orleans indicate people are tired of our crappy cab companies who have lied and broken the rules (give no estimates, routinely refuse local fares, fought credit card machines, lie about credit card machines, etc) for decades, and are welcoming uber. I'm one of them. I don't care for uber' corporate leadership, but their service model is the right one. 
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.

    Uber pretty much respects the law. Sure, they challenge it when they believe it is being unfairly applied, but most time they actually win or make small reasonable changes to make the governing bodies happy. Only in very rare, but public, instances do they come to an impasse and are forced to leave. Most people only have a bad opinion of Uber based on what they read in the press. The overwhelming majority of people's experience with Uber is positive. If this wasn't the case, they would have no business to sustain. 

    Taxi service was never a viable alternative to the service Uber is providing. Other than in dense cities were taxis considered for anything other than getting home drunk or going to and from the airport. Many people have now considered Uber and Lyft as alternatives to everyday driving or even owning a car all together. That is a big shift from the perception of taxis. 

    There is very little pushback on Uber (or Lyft) currently. They are already deeply entrenched in the markets where they operate and there is significant demand in new markets for them to enter. In just a few short years "Uber" has become pretty ingrained in our lexicon and if you were to say out loud Ii'm going to call an Uber" or "I'll Uber over" I'm certain very few people would even think twice about what you said much less question the ethics of the company despite what is circulating in the press. 
    nolamacguy
  • Reply 10 of 19
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 772member
    the rocket launcher will come in handy to clear the traffic and other obstacles out of the way so the self-driving car won't accidentally hit something.
    dysamoria
  • Reply 11 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    foggyhill said:
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.

    Uber pretty much respects the law. Sure, they challenge it when they believe it is being unfairly applied, but most time they actually win or make small reasonable changes to make the governing bodies happy. Only in very rare, but public, instances do they come to an impasse and are forced to leave. Most people only have a bad opinion of Uber based on what they read in the press. The overwhelming majority of people's experience with Uber is positive. If this wasn't the case, they would have no business to sustain. 

    Taxi service was never a viable alternative to the service Uber is providing. Other than in dense cities were taxis considered for anything other than getting home drunk or going to and from the airport. Many people have now considered Uber and Lyft as alternatives to everyday driving or even owning a car all together. That is a big shift from the perception of taxis. 

    There is very little pushback on Uber (or Lyft) currently. They are already deeply entrenched in the markets where they operate and there is significant demand in new markets for them to enter. In just a few short years "Uber" has become pretty ingrained in our lexicon and if you were to say out loud Ii'm going to call an Uber" or "I'll Uber over" I'm certain very few people would even think twice about what you said much less question the ethics of the company despite what is circulating in the press. 
    I told you how it is around here, they are not respecting fracking laws : get a clue.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    nolamacguynolamacguy Posts: 4,758member
    foggyhill said:
    on your second point -- the comments in New Orleans indicate people are tired of our crappy cab companies who have lied and broken the rules (give no estimates, routinely refuse local fares, fought credit card machines, lie about credit card machines, etc) for decades, and are welcoming uber. I'm one of them. I don't care for uber' corporate leadership, but their service model is the right one. 
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.
    what do you mean, specifically? in New Orleans uber is sanctioned by the city and a portion of its fees goes to the city. I'm not aware of how they're operating unlawfully. 
    edited May 2016
  • Reply 13 of 19
    VisualSeedVisualSeed Posts: 217member
    foggyhill said:
    Their so called service model is not that profitable if they actually respect the law. That's the thing.
    Taxi service can be even better than what Uber offer now, if its done correctly
    The lack of incentive to improve in the US is what made Taxi worse than it should have done.
    Like I said, there is starting to be major push back on Uber (and the like); either they conform or they pack up.
    what do you mean, specifically? in New Orleans uber is sanctioned by the city and a portion of its fees goes to the city. I'm not aware of how they're operating unlawfully. 
    Many people have no idea what the laws are, how they apply, and what the criteria for exceptions are. If a company was truly operating in violation of the law, most municipalities have ample resources and means to shut them down rather quickly. Most of the time the public's only information comes from opposing interests claiming (alleging) publicly that Uber is operating illegally in order to garner support for their cause in eliminating them as competition. 
  • Reply 14 of 19
    jameskatt2jameskatt2 Posts: 707member
    So Uber wants to get rid of jobs.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    So this self-driving car has...  a driver.  Brilliant.  (Not really Apple news though, is it.)

    edited May 2016
  • Reply 16 of 19
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,981member
    So Uber wants to get rid of jobs.
    Most corporations want to get rid of jobs. Most jobs are irrelevant to many corporations today... except for the upper management of course. The highest earners and ranks are always the last to be made irrelevant and this often results in top-heavy management, an excused form of capital waste (just like when people think CEOs are actually worth 300 times what their low level employees are worth).

    Yes, employees cost money that could be more profit. Just like manufacturing, design, quality control (and shipping new versions AFTER bugs are largely eliminated in the currently shipping product) costs money. Capitalism is racing to the bottom and our market of trash that must be replaced ridiculously rapidly is not the fault of consumers (gotta get that in there before some libertarian economy theorist claims that "stupid consumers" are to blame).

    Eliminating employees entirely is the step after selling out local job markets to countries that abuse their work forces. It's the "logical" step, though not the ethical one.

    You'd think that transitioning an entire industry to automation would involve slow steps of retraining the job market and repositioning work forces that have decades of experience and focused skill sets in areas being newly automated. After all, it takes vast amounts of time transitioning industries away from toxic waste and environmental destruction ("will phase out [x] by [20 years later]"). So you'd think the same slowness would be seen in other transitions.

    Nope. Lagging on changes that make money isn't acceptable, regardless of the economy and workforce. However, lagging on changes that are best for everyone outside the shareholder clique is required to maintain profit margins. The prime responsibility/loyalty of the CEO of a public corporation is not the consumer, the country of origin, the product, the environment, or even the local laws. They are required to show "responsibility" to the majority share holders. Core conflict of interest there.

    Capitalize the gains, but socialize the losses. That's American capitalism. If the workforce suffers, well, these guys care about as much as they do about the environment and ethics.

    I expect some libertarians to come along and tell me how utterly ignorant I am about "the free market", how ethics doesn't enter into it, and how corporations have the right to do whatever they want (because freedom, etc)... Whatever. Your economic theory is devoid of practice, and the practical evidence for the theory being antisocial are almost everywhere. You won't change my mind or shame me to silence with aggressive commentary, so save your typing. 

    If corporations could tax civilians instead of providing product, they would. Look at the business behaviors of service companies that wrongly think they're in the business of selling contracts. Yes, I'm talking about you, telecoms/internet and "insurance" corporations (and others). Patent trolls are a perfect example of business entities that exists to do nothing more than extort society via the society's bad decisions on patent law.

    Unrestrained capitalism results in companies that have no idea what capitalism was supposed to actually do (other than consolidate wealth for the top shareholders and management). The only people that don't get this appear to be the ones benefitting from the institutionalized greed or the "temporarily embarrassed millionaires" who expect to benefit from it any day now...
  • Reply 17 of 19
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,981member
    So this self-driving car has...  a driver.  Brilliant.  (Not really Apple news though, is it.)

    Yeah, it's silly on the surface of it, but they have to have a human driver to supervise the [essentially unrealistically optimistic] technology that has little legal right to be doing the driving. 
    teaearlegreyhot
  • Reply 18 of 19
    dysamoria said:
    So this self-driving car has...  a driver.  Brilliant.  (Not really Apple news though, is it.)
    Yeah, it's silly on the surface of it, but they have to have a human driver to supervise the [essentially unrealistically optimistic] technology that has little legal right to be doing the driving. 
    I understand completely why Uber has a driver in the automobile. But the driver's presence makes AI's headline more than a little bit hyperbolic.
    "Uber unleashes experimental self-driving car on streets of Pittsburgh" makes it sound as if something akin to the arrival of Martians or the rampaging of zombies has taken place.

    edited May 2016
  • Reply 19 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member
    what do you mean, specifically? in New Orleans uber is sanctioned by the city and a portion of its fees goes to the city. I'm not aware of how they're operating unlawfully. 
    Many people have no idea what the laws are, how they apply, and what the criteria for exceptions are. If a company was truly operating in violation of the law, most municipalities have ample resources and means to shut them down rather quickly. Most of the time the public's only information comes from opposing interests claiming (alleging) publicly that Uber is operating illegally in order to garner support for their cause in eliminating them as competition. 
    Yet, those POS will be shut down here : Montreal. Yup. Made my point.
    sure you can Google a few more in process towards that too.
    In many places, even they;ll  continue operating they'll have to change the way they run their business A LOT. 
    The whole employee vs contractor definition will be refined and they probably won't like the result...
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