Uber Technologies Inc. is a global transportation technology company headquartered in San Francisco, California, United States, operating in 633 cities worldwide. It develops, markets and operates the Uber car transportation and food delivery mobile apps. Uber drivers use their own cars although drivers can rent a car to drive with Uber.
In 2015, Kalanick spoke about his desire to eventually move to using self-driving cars for Uber vehicles. By May 2015, the company had hired many researchers from the robotics department of Carnegie Mellon University and established Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.
On September 14, 2016, Uber launched its first self-driving car services to select customers in Pittsburgh, including Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto using a fleet of Ford Fusion cars each equipped with 20 cameras, seven lasers, GPS, lidar and radar equipment that enables the car to create a three-dimensional map utilizing landmarks and other contextual information to keep track of its position.
On December 14, 2016, Uber began using self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in its hometown of San Francisco. On December 21, 2016, the California Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the registration of the 16 vehicles Uber was using for the test and forced the program to cease operations in California. Uber then moved the program to Arizona, where the cars are picking up passengers, albeit with 2 Uber engineers in the front seats as a safety precaution. In March 2017, an Uber self-driving car was flipped on its side by a vehicle which failed to yield.
Nonetheless, the company announced in November 2017 that it planned to buy up to 24,000 Volvo cars designed to accept autonomous technology between 2019 to 2021. This non-binding intent includes a plan for Uber Advanced Technologies Group to design and build the self-driving system in the XC90 SUV vehicles. In 2016, the two companies had announced that they planned to collaborate on the design and financing of cars with self-driving systems. Such vehicles require a different type of steering and braking mechanism, as well as sensors. The CEO of Volvo Cars, Håkan Samuelsson, made this comment in an interview: “We get support developing this car … It’s also a big commercial deal.” At the time of the 2017 announcement, Uber was defending a lawsuit by Waymo claiming that a former employee, who subsequently worked for an Uber subsidiary, had stolen trade secrets.
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