If you find yourself in or around Pittsburgh in the coming months, you may come face-to-face with a sensor-laden Ford Fusion hybrid not belonging to Ford Motor Company.
Ride-hailing service Uber announced yesterday that the company has started testing its own self-driving Ford Fusion prototype in the “Steel City.” The car came straight out of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, and could pave the way for an entire fleet of self-driving, ride-hailing vehicles. Uber insists that this is about progress; self-driving cars could significantly cut down on the 1.3 million traffic-related deaths which occur every year, they say, while easing congestion, and making transportation cheaper and more accessible.
Ford Motor Company itself uses the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid for its own self-driving car prototypes. The automaker announced in January an expansion of its test fleet to include a total of 30 cars.
For now, Uber’s self-driving Ford Fusion prototype will come with a human at the helm, ready to intervene should something go awry. The first self-driving passenger vehicles are widely expected to become available for purchase by around 2020.