Take A Selfie While In An Uber Self Drive Car…… What?!
16-09-2016 2:00am | by Web Desk
Take A Selfie While In An Uber Self-Drive Car
So it has finally happened and hit the news big time – a self-driving Uber – developed by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh, and launched today. Last year, the company poached a couple of staff members from Carnegie Mellon University and went into limited partnership with a couple of car manufacturers, including Volvo and Ford.
They have previously said the next phase of their research program will be to look at an autonomous Uber. However, many other companies got there first and had a head start in researching the field of cars who operate themselves – including Tesla Motors Inc. Another ride share company Lyft is also in the market for emerging self-drive cars with their actual ride-services app, however, they are infinitely smaller than Uber and pose no real threat.
Test Drive for Reporters
Only 4 autonomous Users have been introduced in Pittsburgh USA, but Uber’s long-term plan is to replace its 1,5 million drivers around the world with autonomous cars. Right now, each car has two Uber drivers who sit in the front seats as back-up for situations when the car cannot cope on its own, such as if a dog runs into the road or if there are heavy snow drifts. During the reporter’s test drive, they said the car followed all standard safety checks without anyone touching a single control.
However, the future of autopilot technology remains divided with some motor industry experts saying it will be perfected within 5 years or so, while others predict a much longer timeline. The advantage of self-driving Uber is that there will obviously be less chance of accidents with fewer human drivers leading to increased safety on the roads.
Pittsburgh Choice Weather
Pittsburgh was chosen for the launch of the autonomous Uber as it is a tricky city for drivers with many bridges, narrow streets, and lots of tunnels. In addition, the weather can also be very challenging: winter brings plenty of snow and ice, springs blossoms cover road signs and traffic safety messages and the sun in summer can actually blind you at certain angles. Even autumn also has problems when all the fallen leaves become extremely slippery! The mayoral staff and other city leaders welcomed Uber with open arms – and their city laws allow for self-driving cars as long as there is one person in the car.
How the Autonomous Car Works?
The cars used were Ford Fusion cars. Also being outfitted for autonomous Uber are Volvo SUVs. The self-drive cars have a technology called ‘lidar’ which operates with lasers that pick out the distance and size of objects in front of it.
Many 3D cameras are also fitted in the cars, as well as a GPS system and all of this is attached to the outside roof of the car. Human intervention was used to allow people to cross the roads at pedestrian crossings, and for unforeseen traffic incidents where the driver took control. Crossing a busy intersection or maneuvering through construction sites are not programmed into the Uber’s self-drive system yet.
Driving on a highway is relatively easy as was demonstrated by Carnegie-Mellon in 1995, but driving through a city center’s streets is another matter – try factoring in the unknown.
How it Feels to drive but not to Drive
Imagine sitting in the driving seat and looking around you at the scenery and at the people on the sidewalks without having to worry about hitting the car in front of you…….no distractions at all as the self-driving Uber moves effortlessly down the road. Then the car in front of you stops – and you could not put your foot on the brake quick enough – but the car had already stopped itself – what a weird feeling…………………
You can hardly collect yourself quick enough to respond as you instinctively should have!!
However, you look up and see the driver of the SUV in front of you indicating that you should pass him – nothing in the car’s autopilot computer design could possibly mimic that action – here was the occasion for the human to take over again…… Not one of its many cameras or sensors can interpret that call to action, so here is where the continuing research is needed – as the developers well know.
The Uber person in the passenger seat sits with laptop screen open in front of him, which is where all activity within and without the car is recorded and stored for further use in progressing in the field of autonomous taxis.
The Future for Ride-hail Self-drive Cars
The Uber researchers will ultimately change the way people get from A to B. People who will be using the ride-hail service in a testing capacity have agreed to complete research questionnaires which will be used to fine-tune the service for its next test launch. These are the first ride-hail self-drive cars to ever be used anywhere in the world.
The logs from all the reporters trips will also be used to see how the cars responded on their own – if they did – or whether the driver had to intervene. It is impossible, at this stage to predict how many times this can happen. All unpredictable situations will pose a problem until the researchers work out a way of the car itself predicting people’s behavior, or maybe they can develop a type of early warning system of possible accidents when they scan the surroundings.
Who knows? I am sure the experts in Silicon Valley will work it out autonomously!!
Uber is not the only company working on autonomous cars, and of course, the first negative comments are about high-profile accidents that have taken place. The Uber wreck was a mere fender-bender but the one with Tesla’s autopilot was fatal. Uber has acknowledged that the trick is to be open about any crashes and inform the public immediately. As far as people losing their jobs as Uber drivers are concerned, the company has commented that that is a long time away – many years of testing remain with drivers still needed to keep the instant human response mechanism going.
People in the USA are general not very happy with self-driving cars. Over 30% said they would never buy one of their own. Uber has acknowledged that there could be difficulties ahead getting people to accept such new technology and a different set of regulations – but, hey, who ever thought the computer would become as indispensable as it is today? Already, a document is being worked on to develop a protocol and a list of do’s and donuts for self-driving cars.