uber carMost of the issues faced by passengers of Uber’s services have usually been driver-related, but imagine if you could eliminate drivers from the equation, wouldn’t that make the service much more reliable? As it turns out this is something that Uber is considering. According to a report from the Pittsburgh Business Times, Uber’s test car was spotted on the roads of Pittsburgh recently.

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On the side of the vehicle, the words “Uber Advanced Technologies Center” were spotted as well, giving away its identity. A statement provided by Uber spokeswoman Sarah Maxwell reads, “This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems.” It should be noted that this isn’t a self-driving car (yet) but a vehicle that Uber uses for its research purposes.

That being said this development does not come as a surprise. Earlier this year the company announced that they would be opening an advanced technologies center in the city to focus on technology such as mapping, vehicle safety, and driverless vehicles, so seeing a self-driving Uber car is only a matter of time.

Uber is not alone in their self-driving car efforts. We’ve seen traditional car makers such as Volvo testing similar vehicles. Google is also working on the technology and if the rumors are to be believed, Apple might have a stake in the market too. However Uber’s interest could be more financially motivated than altruistically trying to advance the technology.

Brian Johnson, an analyst for Barclays had previously estimated that by eliminating the need to hire a driver, it could reduce costs by as much as 34 cents a mile, but what say you? Would you be interested in a self-driving Uber pickup service?

[Image credit – Ethan Lott]

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