Uber’s self-driving cars will be on the road this month in Pittsburgh. Uber autonomous cars, launching this summer, are custom Volvo XC90s, supervised by humans in the driver’s seat.
Pittsburgh is home to Carnegie Mellon University’s robotics department.
Uber’s Pittsburgh fleet, which will be supervised by humans in the driver’s seat for the time being, consists of specially modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles outfitted with dozens of sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers. Volvo Cars has so far delivered a handful of vehicles out of a total of 100 due by the end of the year. The two companies signed a pact earlier this year to spend $300 million to develop a fully autonomous car that will be ready for the road by 2021.
The Volvo deal isn’t exclusive; Uber plans to partner with other automakers as it races to recruit more engineers
Uber has acquired Otto, a 90-plus person technology startup whose mission is to rethink transportation, starting with self-driving trucks. Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will now lead our combined self-driving efforts reporting directly to me—across personal transportation, delivery and trucking—in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Pittsburgh.
Together, we [Uber] now have one of the strongest autonomous engineering groups in the world; self-driving trucks and cars that are already on the road thanks to Otto and Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh; the practical experience that comes from running ridesharing and delivery services in hundreds of cities; with the data and intelligence that comes from doing 1.2 billion miles on the road every month.
Ridesharing helps cut drunk driving. It complements public transit, getting people to places that other means of transportation don’t reach, replacing the need to own a car over time. Most important of all, the smartphone has made mass carpooling a reality. By getting more people into fewer cars, we can reduce congestion and pollution in our cities.
Of course, this is just the start, especially when it comes to safety. Over one million people die on the world’s roads every year and 90 percent of these accidents are due to human error. In the US, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for people under 25. This is a tragedy that self-driving technology can help solve. That’s why our partnership with Swedish car maker Volvo, which we’re also announcing today, is so important. Volvo has consistently been a leader when it comes to safety. And partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars. To do it well is incredibly hard, as I realized on my first visit to a car manufacturing plant several years ago. By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone.
90 person team in the self driving truck company, Otto, which was bought by Uber
SOURCE – Bloomberg, Uber
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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