As early as next month Uber will begin experimenting with commercially available driverless cars in Pittsburgh. Passengers will not know ahead of time whether they have summoned a driverless car and Uber has not revealed what percentage of the Pittsburgh fleet is driverless.
In fact, the term “driverless” is a bit of a misnomer because an Uber staff member will also be in the car to act as co-pilot should the car need assistance. While this is an endorsement of the technology it is perhaps a bigger step forward in regulatory allowances for self-driving cars (even if they’re technically only semi-self-driving). If things go well more cities may follow suit, but if things go poorly it seems regulation of self-driving cars could be stymied, at least until new generations of technology help assuage fears.
There is more here.
Surprisingly, the most interesting part of the article to me wasn’t about self-driving cars, but rather this paragraph:
Rajkumar says the Uber cars will have a lot to learn about local roads and quirky customs like the so-called Pittsburgh left turn: When cars are at a traffic light, the light turns green, and you are the first car in line that wants to turn left, he explains, “you basically get to [go] first, before vehicles going straight from the opposite direction.” It’s only the first left-turning car — not the others, just the first. [Emphasis added]
This practice is apparently common throughout the northeast. How have I not heard of this before?