Uber has been quietly setting up shop in Pittsburgh. The company announced back in February they’d be teaming up with CMU to open an advanced technologies center in in the city, focusing primarily on driverless vehicle technology. The Advanced Technologies Center team Uber has already built up in Pittsburgh is comprised of “world-renowned researchers with decades of experience,” according to a job posting on the Uber website. A spokeswoman for Uber declined to provide additional details or an updated employment count for the center. According to its website, the San Francisco-based rideshare company is looking to hire an automotive safety engineer, master technician, machine learning specialist and traffic simulation engineer, among others. A full list of the open positions at he new facility can be found here.
Uber isn’t wasting any time with its self-driving car effort. The Advanced Technologies Center has already produced a road-ready prototype taxi that is currently being spotted zipping around the streets of Pittsburgh’s Strip District. “This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems,” Uber spokeswoman Trina Smith.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has been more than outspoken about his desire to replace the people who drive its cars with cars that drive themselves.
“The reason Uber could be expensive is because you’re not just paying for the car; you’re paying for the other dude in the car.” Kalanick said. “When there’s no other dude in the car, the cost of taking an Uber anywhere becomes cheaper than owning a vehicle.”
“By removing the driver from the equation (the largest cost in a taxi ride), the average cost per mile to the consumer could be 44 cents for a private ride in a standard sedan and 8 cents for a shared ride in a two-seater,” Johnson wrote. It would also drop the rate of taking an Uber “well below” the $3 to $3.50 a mile consumers now pay to ride in an UberX car or the $1 to $1.50 a mile for an UberPool vehicle, he said.
Taxi drivers the world over have been vocal in their protest at at the encroachment of Uber cars powered by human drivers into their market. The replacement of humans with robots would allow Uber to further undercut the competition and increase it’s profits. So its very likely you’ll be seeing more and more of these cars on the road in Pittsburgh as the company builds out its local operations.