If you love using Uber but hate talking to the driver, you should be optimistic about the future. Starting today, some loyal users in downtown Pittsburgh will be invited to ride in a self-driving Uber, Reuters reports.
According to Business Insider, users who accept the self-driving Ubers must agree to be filmed while in the backseat, so Uber can see how people react to the whole experience. At a press event, Uber's Advanced Technologies Center's Product Manager Emily Bartel explained, "This Pittsburgh pilot is our opportunity for real-world testing, so we can learn more about what makes riders feel comfortable and safe, and can continue to improve the Uber self-driving experience."
For now, the geographically-limited, invitation-only self-driving rides will be free and limited to two passengers, but that's sure to change in time. As Trace Cowen explained for us last month, the goal is "to ultimately get service-wide prices for the feature so low that a driverless Uber is cheaper than a private car."
While Volvo will play a significant role in Uber's transition to driverless cars, for now, users in Pittsburgh will ride in Ford Fusions that have been equipped with 20 cameras, antennas for GPS positioning, and a top-mounted lidar, which uses lasers to "see" around the car and surroundings, according to Business Insider.
Sadly, fully driver-free Ubers likely won't be available until 2021, so you'll be stuck riding with somebody for at least a few more years.