Uber launches self-driving cars in San Francisco
Uber’s self-driving cars are hitting the road in San Francisco as part of the company’s expanded public test of autonomous vehicle technology.
The announcement comes three months after Uber began deploying semi-driverless cars to pick up passengers in Pittsburgh.
Now, some users hailing an UberX in San Francisco will be matched with one of the firm’s self-driving vehicles. An Uber employee will still remain behind the wheel of the car to take control if the vehicle falters or can’t handle a portion of a ride.
“Expanding our self-driving pilot allows us to continue to improve our technology through real-world operations,” Uber said in a press release. “With its challenging roads and often varied weather, Pittsburgh provided a wide array of experiences. San Francisco comes with its own nuances including more bikes on the road, high traffic density and narrow lanes.”
The ride-hailing firm said it doesn’t believe it needs a permit to launch self-driving Ubers in San Francisco, because those rules only apply to cars that can drive without someone controlling or monitoring them.“Several cities and states have recognized that complex rules and requirements could have the unintended consequence of slowing innovation,” Uber said. “Our hope is that California, our home state and a leader in much of the world’s dynamism, will take a similar view.”
Uber’s public testing is a major development in the self-driving car market: The company became the first to put passengers in its test vehicles.
Google, which has been a leader in the space, has tested its driverless cars on nearly 2 million miles of road by putting its own employees on board.
The tech giant announced Tuesday that it is spinning off its self-driving car program into an independent unit called “Waymo.”
Meanwhile, Lyft is partnering with General Motors to launch autonomous vehicles and intends to have the majority of the company’s rides delivered through a network of self-driving vehicles within five years.