Everybody feels awkward when they have to make small talk with their Uber driver, but thanks to new advancements out of Uber’s Pittsburgh facility, this feeling will soon be a thing of the past. Earlier this month, the technology startup out of San Francisco released its new fleet of self driving cars. This fleet consists of retrofitted Ford Fusion vehicles equipped with an array of sensors and lasers to allow the car to navigate on its own. For the time being, these new vehicles can only be hailed in downtown Pittsburgh, where the startup launched their self driving division. Pittsburgh has been able to welcome this new industry with open arms thanks to resources and manpower from universities such as Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh. Many of the top professors and graduate students from these universities have been commissioned by Uber to work on this project, USA Today reports.
Despite all these new advancements, your Uber won’t come driverless just yet. The vehicles still have a driver in the front seat, monitoring the car in case of emergencies or hard to navigate traffic patterns. Despite this, the vehicles still operate themselves roughly 90 percent of the time.While they are currently only available in Pittsburgh, Uber has plans to expand availability, according to Bloomberg.
While it’s easy to get excited about self driving technology, the expansion of this industry could lead to some major changes in both the vehicle market and our way of life. An increased prevalence of self driving cars would make the roads much safer, eliminate the possibility of human error and the option to speed or make risky decisions on the road. However, this would also lead to the complete upheaval of the $570 billion automotive industry and the $671 billion transportation industry, according to Fortune. These sectors expect to see major job losses following the debut of the self driving industry. Regardless of the wide scale implications, self driving cars are going to be a prominent industry in the next several years. With General Motors acquiring Cruise, Google making a deal with Chrysler, Apple investing in China’s Uber equivalent, and Uber partnering with Toyota, the industry is expected to make major strides in the coming years.