Uber’s Leading-Edge Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Pittsburgh

There are a lot of advancements being made over autonomous vehicles’ ability to share the road with driver-assisted vehicles. This insightful article by National Public Radio (NPR) highlights the testing process that Uber is undertaking in Pittsburg, to record the manner in which autonomous-led vehicles are behaving while on the road.

Uber assigns two drivers for each unmanned vehicle it uses on the road. The drivers accomplish two tasks while there: one driver has the possibility of taking over control of the vehicle (should the need arise) while the other driver reviews the programming of the autonomous technology, and makes changes as needed.

But how does it feel to ride in an autonomous-driven vehicle?  NPR took a ride in one of the autonomous-tested vehicles and described the experience as being a safe one: “…the car behaved like a very cautious driver, stopping for a full three seconds at stop signs and never going above the speed limit.” So with this in mind, it seems like driverless vehicles have at least one positive thing going for it–safety.

Yet another benefit to Uber’s project has come from bicyclists in the city. According to Scott Bricker, executive director of Bike Pittsburgh, “[bicyclists] feel a lot more comfortable around autonomous vehicles than human drivers.” They are programmed to drive safely and “maintain a four-foot distance from bikes.” Both of these benefits seem promising in our society, where vehicle accidents occur in much too great numbers.

Uber is making headway in its testing and programming of self-directed vehicle technology in the Pittsburgh market. By doing so, it is also injecting beaucoup dollars in the economy, making the market more attractive for other businesses to invest in. This has been a great help to the city and its much needed retention of Carnegie Mellon graduates, who tend to leave for other, more lucrative opportunities in more successful markets.

Is this technology too good to be true? I believe that we’re headed in the right direction when it comes to laying out the foundation for safer driving in society. How we’re going to get from driver-controlled vehicles to autonomous ones, is the challenge that we will no doubt need to overcome. It might be a long time off before most drivers are willing to give up control, but the safety benefits surely outweigh the growing pains that come from this advancement.

For more details on this article, visit Pittsburgh Offers Driving Lessons for Uber’s Autonomous Cars.


Marianna Maguire
A personal blog offering a daily dose of inspiration, motivation, and awesome book reviews!