Self-driving Ubers are now arriving in Pittsburgh

But there will still be a human driver for safety and the law

Uber has begun offering customers the chance to ride in one of its autonomous car prototypes. The new service has launched in Pittsburgh, where Uber carries out its high-tech research, and is a sign of confidence by the company in its self-driving car technology.

The service is initially being offered to Uber's "most loyal" customers in the city as part of the Uber X service, the company said in a blog post that was short on technical details.

The Ford Focus cars being used in the trial will have a human in the driver's seat -- someone who should be ready to take over from the computer should it encounter a situation it cannot safely deal with. That's not only a prudent technical move but also the law. No U.S. states have legalized self-driving cars without human drivers or steering wheels.

160914 uber selfdriving 6 Uber

An Uber autonomous car prototype in Pittsburgh.

Uber's self-driving prototype is distinctive for the large array of sensors on the roof. At the very top is a spinning LIDAR (light detection and ranging) laser imaging sensor, which bounces laser light off everything in its sight to build a 360-degree model of the surroundings.

Similar LIDAR sensors are used on Google's self-driving prototypes and those from other car makers.

But it's underneath that where Uber's prototype differs. There are banks of cameras facing forward, to each side, and to the rear as well as additional, smaller LIDAR sensors pointing off to the sides.

160914 uber selfdriving 7 Uber

An Uber autonomous car prototype in Pittsburgh.

The same cameras are missing on Google cars that have roof-mounted LIDAR sensors.

Google self driving car Martyn Williams

A Google self-driving car navigates streets near the company's headquarters in Mountain View, California, on June 29, 2015.

The extra gear on Uber's cars is there to supplement the LIDAR view of the near and far field. The forward facing cameras watch for things like braking vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights, and signs, the company said.

The side-facing cameras work in stereo pairs for a 3D view of the vehicle's surroundings, and the rear and wing-mounted LIDAR units help detect nearby obstacles that might otherwise be in blindspots.

Uber's self-driving car research is taking place in Pittsburgh with Carnegie Mellon University. The two forged a partnership in 2015 that saw Uber build its Advanced Technology Center near the CMU campus. CMU faculty, staff, and students are playing an active role in the development of the technologies.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags automotive ITAutomotive

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?