This Is Our First Good Look at Uber's Self-Driving Car

Illustration for article titled This Is Our First Good Look at Ubers Self-Driving Car

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.

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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.

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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.

[Uber via The Verge]

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DISCUSSION

I keep talking to people who assure me that the public won’t let self-driving cars on the road or that somehow adoption of this technology is some distant future in which they will not participate. I don’t think people understand the *mountains* of money that are going to get behind this technology. Volvo (among others) is already testing self-driving big rigs, which is going to attract industrial and manufacturing money that absolutely dwarfs what Google and Uber are already putting behind this concept. Conservatively this technology eliminates ~5-10 million jobs just in the US when it reaches maturity, which gives us another mass of largely uneducated, idle, and likely disgruntled mass of voters, who will probably look to make ‘Murica great again. But hey, educating people to work in the new economies is too expensive, fascinating times, I must say.