Blurred Culture_Uber_pittsburgh_001

If you’re driving around Pittsburgh in the coming weeks you might see a strange sight: a car that looks like it should be driven by a superhero. But this is no movie prop — it’s a test car from Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC) in Pittsburgh.

Uber chose the Steel City as the home of the Advanced Technologies Center because of its world-class engineering talent and research facilities. Pittsburgh is an ideal environment to develop and test new technology across a wide variety of road types, traffic patterns and weather conditions.

Uber gave a reporter from Pittsburgh’s Tribune-Review a ride in the car, the first time a member of the media has been allowed to see it in operation up close. The reporter, Aaron Aupperlee, had this to say about the experience:

“The car drove itself over the 31st Street Bridge and along River Avenue on the North Side before turning around at the Heinz Lofts. The car will accelerate, brake, steer and perform other basic functions on its own. It switches out of self-driving mode with a loud beep if its sensors detect a car swerving into its lane or it encounters something it does not recognize or know how to negotiate.

The driver can take control of the car at anytime. The car’s sensors detected parked cars sticking out into traffic, jaywalkers, bicyclists and a goose crossing River Avenue.

Blurred Culture_Uber_pittsburgh_2

While Google has been the company that’s most transparent about testing its self-driving car, Uber is the one most experts in the field are watching closely. The assumption is that self-driving cars, when fully ready, will be initially put to use as for-hire vehicles. And Uber, with its iron grip on the US’s for-hire vehicle market, is best positioned to profit on that development.

“From the first steel mills to the laboratories at Pitt and Carnegie Mellon, Pittsburgh has a long history of innovation. Now we’re taking another step forward, this time as home to Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, where some of the world’s leading innovators are helping to shape the future of transportation. 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.”

William Peduto, Mayor of Pittsburgh