Uber is skipping past California's regulations and testing self-driving Volvos around Silicon Valley.
Many car companies have been testing their self-driving concepts in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, which is cool, but not really, since no one realistically visits that area of the States, especially if you're from Europe. But San Francisco, California, on the other hand, is an ideal vacation spot, and a place you might actually have to travel to for work, considering the city has become a major epicenter for the technology and business sectors.
It therefore makes sense that Uber, which is based in San Francisco, would begin testing its autonomous vehicles in the city's downtown area. Three months after introducing self-driving cars to Pittsburgh's streets, Uber has brought a version of its technology to its hometown. It has been working work with Volvo to add its autonomous know-how to Volvo's fleet. And starting 14 December, if you're in San Francisco and request an UberX through Uber, you could be matched with a self-driving Volvo XC90s - as long as one is available.
The ride-sharing firm has confirmed a driver will be present to take over when the car can't navigate itself. As a passenger, you'll use an iPad in the back to verify your destination and get a view of what the car sees when it's in self-driving mode. According to TechCrunch, the car is able to supply a 360-degree view of the road through cameras, GPS, lidar, and radar, even though it uses fewer sensors than the Ford cars Uber tested.
Here's where it gets interesting, and murky: Uber said it looked "carefully" at California's regulations and came to the conclusion it doesn't need a testing permit. The rules only apply to cars that don't have a driver behind the wheel, and Uber said its autonomous Volvos will have a driver present. I'll be interesting to see if California agrees with this interpretation of the rules.
In the meantime, if you want to try Uber's limited experiment, get yourself to San Francisco soon and start hailing.
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