App-based car hire service, Uber announced on Thursday it will begin testing its driverless cars on the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania within the next few weeks.
In a statement released by the San Francisco-based company, the move is meant to save lives, adding that 94 percent of the car accidents that kill 1.3 million people every year involved human error.
“In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents,” Uber said in its statement.
The company, which allows users to summon cars from their smartphones also gave us our first peek at what that might look like.
A hybrid-powered Ford Fusion has been equipped by the company with radar, laser sensors and high-resolution cameras to map out the road around Uber’s technology centre in Pittsburgh and trial self-driving systems.
Uber, which operates in 450 cities worldwide, also stated that the car would have a trained driver on board monitoring it as it drives, laying the groundwork for taxis, stressing that one day could be completely computer controlled.
Uber says the technology is in its early days and that the company has informed local officials and law enforcement of its plans. “Right now we’re focused on getting the technology right and ensuring it’s safe for everyone on the road,” Uber wrote in a blog post.
William Peduto, mayor of Pittsburgh, lauded the initiative, saying that the city is proud of its history of innovation.
Peduto said: “We’re excited that Uber has chosen the Steel City as they explore new technologies that can improve people’s lives — through increased road safety, less congestion, and more efficient and smarter cities.”
According to a U.K based newspaper company, Telegraph, the move by Uber will further disrupt the taxi industry.