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App-based Cab Uber. Wikimedia

PITTSBURG, Sept 15, 2016: Beating all competition in the silicon valley Uber did a test ride of its driverless cars in Pittsburg.Competitors such as Volvo and Google have invested hundreds of millions of dollars and logged millions of miles test driving autonomous vehicles, but Uber is the first company in the U.S. to make self-driving cars available to the general public.

Starting Wednesday morning, a fleet of self-driving Ford Fusions will pick up Uber riders who opted to participate in a test program. While the vehicles are loaded with features that allow them to navigate on their own, an Uber engineer will sit in the driver’s seat and seize control if things go awry.


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That pilot really pushes the ball forward for us,” said Raffi Krikorian, Director of Uber Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh, the company’s main facility for testing self-driving vehicles. “We think it can help with congestion, we think it can make transportation cheaper and more accessible for the vast majority of people.”

A reporter from The Associated Press tried out the service Monday. The ride through downtown Pittsburgh and over some bridges went smoothly, with the car waiting for oncoming traffic before making a turn and at one point stopping for a vehicle that was backing into a parking space. Parking, however, was a task the human driver had to perform.

This real-time map is constantly being matched against a map that’s been pre-loaded into the car’s brain. Uber collects the new, real-time data from its cars twice a day, and it pushes updated maps to its cars once a week.

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What allowed Uber to get to the front of the pack was not auto engineering but rather its ability to accumulate and crunch massive amounts of data on road and driving conditions collected from the billions of miles driven by Uber drivers.”We have one of the strongest self-driving engineering groups in the world, as well as the experience that comes from running a ride-sharing and delivery network in hundreds of cities,” said Uber founder and chief executive Travis Kalanick.

But even if Uber manages to get the driverless cars on the road and running, there’s still a matter of legislation issues as even if a car is fully functional and equipped it still requires a driver with a legitimate license behind the wheel according to the current laws which of course might undermine the whole point of making mechanised cars.

But bigger changes in laws have been done and nobody can undermine the huge technological advancement that is represented by these driverless cars.

– prepared by Anubhuti Gupta of NewsGram


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