A product from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the hybrid Ford Fusion will be testing its self-driving capabilities while also collecting mapping data.
The vehicle is still occupied by a trained driver when in self-driving mode, who will monitor operations while the car relies on its array of radars, laser scanners and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment.
Pittsburgh offers a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions, ideal for the real-world testing necessary for autonomous technology.
Uber says that the real-world testing of this technology is essential to develop driverless vehicles. The company says that around 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents, 94 per cent of which are the result of driver error.
Above: Ford testing its own version of the driverless Mondeo, in Michigan.
It is believed that self-driving technology will help to reduce congestion, make transport more affordable and accessible to the public, and reducing the road toll.
The ride-sharing company says that these goals are the driving forces behind its mission to make transportation “as reliable as running water”.
William Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh, said: “Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation”.
“We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives - through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.”
Uber says it chose Pittsburgh as the home for its ATC because of the city’s “world-class engineering talent and research facilities”.
With the unveiling of its new driverless car, the company joins a growing list of auto manufacturers and other organisations driving the development and implementation of autonomous vehicle technologies, including Swedish marque Volvo and tech giant Google.