In a blog post today, Uber showed off the self-driving car that’s been stealthily cruising around Pittsburgh. The car is a hybrid Ford Fusion and is currently in early stages of safety testing. This particular Uber test vehicle was first spotted almost a year ago by local Pittsburgh media, but this is Uber’s first acknowledgement of such tests.
Uber and Google (among others) have been racing to be the first to develop self-driving taxis for over a year now. Uber “cleaned out” Carnegie Mellon and the National Robotics Engineering Center to be part of its Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh, the research arm responsible for developing this “look ma, no hands” technology. This heavy hiring out of Carnegie Mellon could give Uber a big boost. The Pittsburgh-based university considers itself the birthplace of self-driving cars, and it probably is. CMU researchers were testing autonomous vehicles before Google even existed.
In March, Uber also joined a coalition, this time in partnership with Google, to advocate for self-driving adoption.
For now, Uber’s ambitious autonomous efforts remain contained on Pittsburgh streets with a flesh-and-blood human behind the wheel. But with Google expanding its own efforts to Arizona for temperature testing, it looks like the race toward hands-free transportation is well underway.