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Uber's First Self-driving Car

Uber has recently released the first official photo of the self-driving cars that it is testing on the streets of Pittsburgh. The car, a hybrid Ford Fusion, is collecting mapping data as well as testing its self-driving capabilities, and is equipped with "radars, laser scanners, and high resolution cameras to map details of the environment," Uber says in a blog post. But as it collects data, a trained driver is always behind the wheel.

Uber also 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."

It's the first official confirmation that Uber is testing its own self-driving technology in Pittsburgh, despite a preponderance of evidence pointing to that fact over the last year. Pittsburgh is where the ride-hailing giant has set up its Advanced Technologies Center, where a team of robotics experts Uber poached from places like Google and Carnegie Mellon University are working on autonomous driving technology.

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