Few years back the company announced about their plans to launch self driving cars and they signed agreements with leading automakers in the industry. The ridesharing rival also partnered with other manufacturers to build the driverless cars.
The testing ground- Pittsburgh
The San Francisco based ridesharing giant announced that they will introduce their driverless cars in Pittsburgh, which made the public more excited and they were anticipating about the new technology. But there were no public demonstration or announcement made except for a political official and the mayor to witness the technology, no other top officials or authorities have seen the driverless vehicle. Many have criticized the city for giving permission to the ridesharing company for testing the nascent tech and acting roughshod over the municipalities and the regulators.
The Mayor of Pittsburgh, Bill Peduto said that they have no interest in limiting or regulating the car hailing companies and he also informed that the company had plans on using hundred Volvo sport utility vehicle for the testing phase. He also said that allowing the tech companies to experiment their technology and giving them the liberty to offer service will transform the city into a significant location for new innovation and technology. So the city welcomed the ridesharing company to research their new innovation in the transportation network by leasing them a large area to start their research and testing. Even in 2014, when the company faced the regulation disputes, the Governor and the Mayor of the city rescued the company from the hurdles.
This approach of the city has attracted many engineers and scientists to open new research centers in the city for the past few years and many companies like the Intel, Uber, Google and Apple have their research centers in Pittsburgh.
The University of Pittsburgh
Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh is the university where the ridesharing company is testing their autonomous cars. Thirty years ago the university introduced the robotics department that had grown to higher levels and this helped Uber, when they came to the city in 2015 to with the aim of building the self driving cars. And the university’s computer science department has attracted many tech companies to open their centers in the city and is hiring many graduate students and the professors from the university to take part in the research.
The car hailing company has five hundred employees in the Strip District those who are working on the driverless cars and they also have plans on setting up an Advanced Technology center that will have thousand employees and the plans to invest one billion dollars. The transportation rules in the Pennsylvania allowed the driverless cars to run on the roads, if they have a person behind the wheels to take control of the driving if necessary. The officials in the transportation agency also said that the autonomous cars will reduce the accidents that are related to drivers’ death and hence they are happy to welcome the new technology on the road.
The ridesharing company also has taken steps to improve the city’s road safety by working with the city’s police department to install kiosk in the South Side District, which helps the people who have drunk to not drive the vehicle. The city has also designated a specific waiting area for the ridesharing vehicles at the International Airport in the city.
The driverless cars are mounted with the GPS systems, cameras and the devices help in collecting the data on the trees and plants on the street, the traffic markings and the condition of the sidewalks on the streets.
To test the autonomous cars, the ridesharing company selected thousand customers in the steel city on September 14th, 2016. The company planned to release the Ford Fusions autonomous cars in the city, first they launched four cars and they have eleven more models of this type in the center. Along with this, hundred Volvo SUVs are also in the line that is ready to be launched by the year end. The Ford Fusion has 360° laser based detection system, more than twenty cameras, one thousand four hundred aftermath parts deliver millions of data about the environment and 7 lasers.
In the testing phase, the Ford Fusion has an engineer sitting in the front seat to assist in driving the car if required. The data are shared with ATC and it is further shared with the self driving vehicles that will help in learning from the experiences. The riders can see the way the car views the real time scenario with the help of the touch screen device that is fixed at the backseat. The objects on the screen are displayed in multicolor topographical lines that help in identifying the distance of the objects and the height of the objects from the vehicle, the current speed and the intended moves of the vehicle is also displayed on the screen, so if the car comes across a STOP sign, the screen tells the riders that the car plans to brake and halt the car. The screen has a small photo option that allows the riders to take selfies when the ride on the autonomous cars.
The Product Manager at Uber’s Advanced Technology Center, Emily Bartel said that the goal of the company is to provide the information about the ride and the system of the vehicle to the riders so that they will feel confident and safe.
The performance of the driverless cars
The driverless cars follow the speed limits according to the suggested speed in that particular lane, so if the speed limit is 40mph, the car rides in the exact speed and it increases the speed when the speed limit gets increased. The vehicle struck unsettlingly, the moment when other vehicles on the road veer out of the lane and similarly the vehicle does not slow down its speed when some other vehicles passes in front of the vehicle, instead it was calculating that the other vehicle can pass through the intersection before the car reaches it.
The navigation process was not confident enough; it slows down whenever it approaches the traffic signals and speeds through it when it identifies the green signal. When taking the right hand side corners, the vehicle slows down instantaneously and the company is still working on enhancing these kinds of issues. The wheel has two buttons that will switch between the normal mode and the autonomous mode and the riders can identify the autonomous driving mode is stopped by a ‘ding’ noise and the colorless flag that says that the self driving mode is off.
Anand Rajendran is the Co-Founder and CEO of Zuket. He is a writer and coffee lover. He has is a graduate in Computer Science and Post Graduate in Entrepreneurship and leadership from Ulyanovsk State University, Russia. He is a passionate blogger & SEO Specialist. Zuket is a Software Development company which has launched Taxily Script which is a Uber Clone Script with Android and iOS apps.