By Justin Sherman
Vegas Seven recently had the opportunity to try out Uber’s new self-driving cars. Here are seven things you need to know about this test program, which is currently available in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Tempe, Arizona.
1. Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, or ATG, based in Pittsburgh is developing the self-driving technology. The goal is fewer accidents, less congestion and improvement to the economics of transportation over time. According to ATG statistics, more than 1.3 million people globally die in car accidents every year.
2. Request an UberX in Pittsburgh and you could be paired with a self-driving experience.
3. Right now, there are two vehicle operators in each self-driving Uber. Since the program is still in the test phase, and will be for quite some time, these cars are manned and monitored for optimal system performance.
4. There are over 200 Volvo XC90s in the fleet. A top-mounted lidar provides a 360-degree, three-dimensional scan of the environment.
5. Each car has seven cameras and one laser. Side- and rear-facing cameras work in collaboration to construct a continuous view of the vehicle’s surroundings. The forward-facing camera focuses on both close and far field, watching for braking vehicles, crossing pedestrians, traffic lights and signage.
6. The end goal could be a future without the hassle of car ownership.
7. Pittsburgh was chosen as a pilot city because of its weather, narrow, winding streets and unpredictable road conditions.