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Uber Rolls Out First Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh

May 19, 2016

Uber has started testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh as the ride-hailing company pursues a future where drivers will no longer be needed.

The ride-hailing company is using a hybrid Ford Fusion to collect mapping data as well as test self-driving capabilities, Uber said in a blog post Thursday.

The Uber car comes outfitted with a variety of sensors including radars, laser scanners, and high-resolution cameras to map details of the environment, the company says. It isn't clear what companies are supplying the radar and other sensors. A Ford Motor Co. spokesman said the company is not collaborating with Uber.

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The announcement follows rival Lyft's own forays into autonomous vehicles. Earlier this year, GM invested $500 million into Lyft and partnered with the company to eventually deploy self-driving cars that could be ordered via an app. Lyft and GM are reportedly going to pilot self-driving taxis within the next year. Cruise Automation, the autonomous vehicle technology company that GM said it would acquire for more than $1 billion, recently went public with its own tests of driverless tech on the all-electric Chevrolet Bolt EV in San Francisco.

Uber is testing its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh because its advanced technology research center is also located there. The company says to chose to locate its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh because of its proximity to research facilities and local engineering talent. It's also an ideal environment to develop and test technology across different road types, traffic patterns, and weather conditions, Uber says.

Uber and Lyft are leaving this city. For more, watch:

Uber announced a partnership in February 2015 with Carnegie Mellon University that included the creation of the tech center. At the time, Uber said it wanted to work closely with CMU faculty, staff, and students to conduct research and development. The relationship became strained within a few months after Uber lured 40 of CMU's faculty, researchers and technicians away by offering lucrative salaries and benefits to staff the new tech center.

Uber also partnered last year with the University of Arizona’s College of Optical Science to focus on research and development in the optics space for mapping and safety. Uber’s test vehicles, Ford Fusion cars equipped with mapping and autonomous driving technology, will be tested in Tucson, home to the University of Arizona.

Uber previously said the mapping test vehicles are not self-driving cars. Although in Pittsburgh, the company has combined the two technologies.

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