The ride hailing service is testing "mapping, safety and autonomy systems" in a sci-fi car as part of push to eliminate the cost of drivers.

By Verne Kopytoff
May 21, 2015

Uber users are a step closer to being chauffeured around town in driverless cars.

The ride hailing service has started an early test into “mapping, safety and autonomy systems” as part of a part of plan to automate rides and eliminate the cost of drivers, according to the Pittsburgh Business Times.

The test car was recently spotted on the road in Pittsburgh, where Uber has opened a research lab. The car, with “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” emblazoned on the side, had what appeared to be equipment for autonomous navigation or mapping affixed to its roof.

A spokeswoman for Uber emphasized to Fortune that it is not a self-driving car.

Uber executives have voiced interest in self-driving cars in the past. In recent months, they have poached a group of robotics specialists from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh to staff the effort.

Brian Johnson, an analyst for Barclays, said in a report earlier this week that the cost savings of self-driving cars for Uber or any other taxi-like service could be big. Removing the driver would reduce the cost of a ride at 34 cents a mile, nearly 58% cheaper than traditional new cars.

(This story was updated with a statement from Uber and clarification that the company’s car is not self-driving)

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