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Uber to pick up passengers in self-driving cars within a fortnight

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David Cornish
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"Driver, take me to the airport please. Terminal three. Driver? Oh..."

It's happening. The automated revolution that Uber has been dreaming of ever since Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp launched their disruptive cab hailing app in 2010. 

Uber has announced (via Bloomberg) that its first self-driving cars will hit the streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, within a fortnight. 

How will it work?

How will it work?

Uber users in Pittsburgh will be able to summon one of a fleet of Volvo cars from the app, as per the usual process of hailing an Uber cab.

Should they be paired with a driverless car, they won't actually have to pay for the ride (for the time being).

You'll have company

You'll have company

It won't be a truly 'driverless' experience for the near future: for safety reasons, an Uber driver will be seated in the Volvo just in case anything goes wrong with the car's software. A co-pilot will be seated in the passenger seat, taking notes on the process with a laptop. 

Cars will be equipped with a tablet in the back seat, explaining to passengers the odd, sci-fi set up they'll have arrived in. 

"The goal is to wean us off of having drivers in the car, so we don’t want the public talking to our safety drivers," Krikorian told Bloomberg. Apparently bridges are a serious issue for the car, which can become easily confused by the change in the lack of solid ground surrounding the car. 

Self-driving cabs are only the start

In addition to it's autonomous cab fleet, Uber has announced the purchase of the self-driving lorry company Otto. It intends to provide self-driving technology to compete in the haulage industry, allowing drivers to take a break while a computer system takes over for long motorway stints - but don't be surprised if the driver could eventually be replaced altogether. 

What's next? Uber busses? Uber planes? Uber segways that carry us along pavements? So long as the prices are cheap...

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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