AUTOMATED VEHICLES: Uber pairs with Volvo in Pittsburgh self-driving trial

Aug. 19, 2016

Rides in a self-driving Volvo will be available to the city's Uber customers this month

Uber will offer customers in Pittsburgh rides in self-driving vehicles starting this month, according to a report from Bloomberg yesterday.

Customers in the city's downtown will be randomly matched with one of the company’s self-driving cars, a modified Volvo sport utility vehicle, when they hail a ride through Uber’s mobile application. The rides will be free.

A tablet will feature information about the self-driving car in an attempt to acclimate riders to the unfamiliar experience.

Each car will have a driver who is able to take control of the car in the event of a difficulty or if the system is unable to navigate through a certain part of its route. A second person will travel with the vehicle to take notes on the car’s performance.

Uber’s decision to roll out the fleet in the Pennsylvania city, where its autonomous car research has been based, is a significant choice. Other companies, including industry leader Google, have yet to expand their testing to consumers or bring a comparable product to market.

But the ride-hail company has aggressively moved into the autonomous car space in recent years. Bloomberg also reported in its Thursday story that Volvo and Uber had signed a deal to jointly develop a self-driving car by 2021—an effort that will cost the companies $300 million.