Artificial Intelligence

Self-driving Uber launched in San Francisco

EPA / Peter DaSilva

Three months after the introduction in Pittsburgh, Uber Technologies Inc. said its autonomous Volvo XC90s are starting to pick up fares in Fog City. Stereo and mono cameras, the radar and the lidar on top transfer the 360-degree view to the system, which suggests transition to self-driving mode to the vehicle operator − formerly known as the driver. The largest startup in the world said its cars can’t work by themselves. Yet. Actually, in the beginning the safety driver will be on alert to take over if necessary, as well as for more complex maneuvers, while another person will ride along to track incoming data.

A touch screen shows what the vehicle sees and the computer has superhuman perception, according to engineers. The service will be available for customers in San Francisco who order the low-tariff uberX, if one of the new cars is available.

Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s chief for advanced technology, explained the skills obtained in the second-largest city in Pennsylvania will now be applied in a place with greater traffic density, narrow lanes and more bicycles. “Several cities and states have recognized that complex rules and requirements could have the unintended consequence of slowing innovation. Pittsburgh, Arizona, Nevada and Florida in particular have been leaders in this way, and by doing so have made clear that they are pro-technology. Our hope is that California, our home state and a leader in much of the world’s dynamism, will take a similar view,” he said and stressed the ride-hailing system operator believes a testing permit isn’t necessary for the rollout of the segment in San Francisco.

The company insists the future of urban transportation is in a viable solution that excludes car ownership and in getting more humans into fewer units. Its newest project introduced the third generation of semi-autonomous vehicles, while Ford provided the fleet used in Pittsburgh. Volvos have the automaker’s premier scalable platform architecture, or SPA. The first phase of self-driving uberX is being launched in the city center with “a handful” of cars.

Uber is confident the new system will lead to a significant drop in collisions and fatalities. Its autonomous cars with test drivers have been mapping San Francisco since the summer.

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