We may not yet have the flying cars “The Jetsons” promised, but there is a good chance that self-driving vehicles will soon become a reality.
Uber is test driving a hybrid Ford Fusion to collect mapping data and study self-driving capabilities as a way to make driving more dependable and safe. The car (or cars, as Uber has not given an exact number of cars they are testing) comes from their Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Last year Uber partnered with Carnegie Mellon to open the ATC as part of their quest to develop automated driving technologies. While there will be an actual person in the driver’s seat for testing, Uber is hoping to make these cars 100% driverless in the near future. The ATC car is equipped with radars, laser scanners, and hi-res cameras, all of which are being used to aid data collection.
Uber’s intentions are more than just breaking technological barriers. They say their mission is to save lives and revolutionize the entire driving experience. As stated in their recent blog post:
“Real-world testing is critical to our efforts to develop self-driving technology. Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world. 1.3 million people die every year in car accidents—94% of those accidents involve human error. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents. These goals are at the heart of Uber’s mission to make transportation as reliable as running water—everywhere and for everyone.”
Uber isn’t the only tech company to focus on self-driving technology. Google, Tesla, Apple, and GM are currently working on their own models for automated driving.