It’s official: you can ride in a self-driving Uber starting Wednesday.
Well, there are some caveats. You need to live in Pittsburgh, Penn. where the pilot is occurring to try it out. You also need to get a special invite from Uber — and you’ll know if you’re one of the lucky few if it’s in your email inbox when 6 a.m. hits Wednesday.
But if all the stars align for you lucky Pittsburgh folks, you could be taking a robotic Uber to work this week.
“Starting Wednesday morning, we are going to start slowly inviting our most loyal Pittsburgh riders to take an experience in the future,” Raffi Krikorian, Director of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center (ATC), said at a press event on Monday. “If they call for a ride, then a self-driving Uber might show up and pick them up.”
Uber declined to provide more information as to what qualified someone as a loyal customer, only saying it had to do with how often a customer hailed an Uber. If you hail Ubers frequently and still don’t get an invite, don’t take it too personally — the selection process also had to do with location, as Uber’s cars are only capable of handling a few areas like downtown Pittsburgh and in Shadyside, a neighbourhood slightly north of the area.
The car won’t commence a route that involves it going outside the areas it’s limited to. The rides will be free, but an Uber spokesperson said that may change in time.
Those who choose to participate are also agreeing to be videotaped while in the backseat. That’s part of Uber’s effort to see how people respond to a self-driving car and figure out what needs to be changed to ensure people are comfortable.
“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,” Emily Bartel, Product Manager at Uber ATC, said at the press event.
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