Uber tests 1st self-driving car in Pittsburgh

Uber is testing its first prototype of a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh, the ride-hailing company said Thursday.

Vehicle will have someone behind the wheel while in self-driving mode

Uber released this image of its first driverless car, a prototype on Pittsburgh's roads. (Uber)

Uber is testing its first prototype of a self-driving car on the streets of Pittsburgh, the ride-hailing company said Thursday.

In a blog post, the company says it has equipped its Advanced Technologies Center in the U.S. city with its first driverless vehicle, a modified Ford Fusion with radar, laser scanners and high-resolution cameras attached to the roof.

The vehicle in question still has a human behind the wheel during testing. The company says it's still in the early stages of its self-driving tests and needs to make sure the technology is safe.

Uber picked Pittsburgh because of its "wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions."

Uber is in a pack of automotive and technology companies rushing to bring autonomous vehicles from conception to reality. Although it calls itself a technology company, Uber's core business turns ordinary drivers into de facto taxi drivers who can give people rides in 450 cities worldwide.

"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 per cent of those accidents involve human error," Uber said. 

"In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents."

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