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Uber’s self-driving taxis are here, and they’re completely free

Uber has launched a new scheme that will see passengers ferried about in self-driving car, ushering in a new age of driverless taxi services.

The US ride-sharing giant is rolling out the service in Pittsburgh initially, and will use Volvo XC90 SUVs that have been modified to run autonomously. Better still, customers can ride in the cars completely free of charge, as a thanks for testing out the future of road transport.

Sounds a bit unsafe? Well, initially, all of the cars will still have a human driver, who will make sure that nothing goes awry. The cars will also only operate in a specific area, so you won’t be able to rove across the country in a driverless Uber just yet.

Speaking about the plans, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said:

Over one million people die on the world’s roads every year, and 90% of these accidents are due to human error. In the US, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for people under 25. This is a tragedy that self-driving technology can help solve.”

Around 100 self-driving Volvo vehicles will be operational in Pittsburgh at the launch of the scheme, with plans to eventually move into other areas too.

uberdriveUber’s self-driving vehicles are about to hit the streets of Pittsburgh

It’s all thanks to a new acquisition of Otto, a 90-person(-ish) start-up that works on driverless car technology. Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski will now lead the two firms’ combined self-driving efforts, and will report directly to Kalanick, with plans for technology trialling across transportation, delivery, and trucking in San Francisco, Palo Alto, and Pittsburgh too.

“When it comes to this advanced technology stack, Otto plus Uber is a dream team,” explained Kalanick. “Anthony is one of the world’s leading autonomous engineers: his first invention, a self-driving motorcycle called Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian. Just as important, Anthony is a prolific entrepreneur with a real sense of urgency.”

Related: Project Titan

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