Uber has been toying with the idea of self-driving cars for a while, and this week, the company has begun testing autonomous cars in Pittsburgh.
On Thursday, a spokesperson for Uber said they were using a hybrid version of the Ford Fusion to test their mapping data technology and to test the car’s self-driving capabilities. The Ford Fusion comes outfitted with various sensors including laser scanners, high-resolution cameras, and radars.
Uber didn’t announce which companies were supplying the sensors in the Fusion, but a spokesperson for Ford said that the automobile manufacturer is not working with Uber on the project.
Uber’s announcement of the self-driving car tests comes on the heels of their rival Lyft’s announcement of working on self-driving cars. Lyft is collaborating with General motors, which invested $50 million in the company, and is also working with Lyft to eventually create self-driving cars that can be ordered using the Lyft app.
According to reports, General Motors and Lyft are aiming to have self-driving taxis sometime within the next year.
A few months ago, General Motors announced plans to acquire Cruise Automation, a company that creates autonomous vehicle technology, for $1 billion. The company recently successfully tested its driverless technology on the Chevy Bolt EV in San Francisco.
While Uber is headquartered in San Francisco, it has been conducting its self-driving car tests in Pittsburgh because the company’s *ATRC* is located in the city. According to an Uber spokesperson, the company decided keep its *ATRC* in Pittsburgh since the location is close to research centers and local engineering talent.
Another reason Uber chose to conduct its tests in Pittsburgh is because it is an ideal place for the company to test and develop the technology in different road and weather conditions.
In February 2015, Uber announced its partnership with *CMU* The partnership with CMU helped Uber create its ATRC.
At the time of the announcement, the company announced that it wanted to work closely with the faculty and staff at CMU to help with the company’s research and development. After a few months of the partnership, the relationship started to sour because Uber lured 40 members of CMU’s faculty and researchers away, offering them better salaries and incentives.
Last year, Uber also partnered with the *COOS at UA,* to help the company research and develop the optics space for mapping and safety.
Uber initially said the Ford Fusions that were equipped with mapping technology were not self-driving cars, but the company apparently changed its mind when the two technologies were combined.