Welcome to Pittsburgh! City of the future! Starting on Wednesday, Uber’s self-driving car will start carrying passengers around town. This is a very important test because it links with the possibility of creating a series of autonomous vehicles. Who knows? Maybe one day, these will be the cars that will transport people around.
A test drive for journalists
On Tuesday, the company gave journalists the chance to be part of a test drive. They used about 24 Ford Fusion sedans. These cars were bought by the engineers and redesigned to fit the needs of a self-driving car: light-mapping systems, radar, sensors and cameras were installed on them.
At the moment, the car will still have an engineer behind the wheel. It is still a primitive phase after all, and an eventual incident would not be preferable. If the system malfunctions, there will be someone there to take control of the car.
Still in the testing phase
Anthony Levandowski, leader of Uber’s self-driving car project says that: “I really believe that the most important thing that computers are going to do in the next 10 years is drive cars!”
This might be the truth. Today, in a U.S. Today test drive, the self-driving car succeeded to navigate among the crowded streets of the city. It even avoided bicyclists and pedestrians on Penn Avenue. There were times when the car could not manage a more difficult traffic situation. When that happened, the care gave the control back to the human driver behind the wheel. As we said earlier, the system is still not completely usable.
The drivers are going to be instructed to gently keep their hands on the steering wheel in case something unusual and unpredicted happens.
Pittsburg is one of the nicest cities to test a car in. It has a wide variety of architectural structures and obstacles, many pedestrians and bicyclists, bridges, crowded streets and railroads.
Self-driving cars in danger?
Recently, it seems that the self-driving car projects have encountered some problems. Google’s self-driving car is not a hot topic anymore. There is information according to which Apple is secretly conducting a car project that might be exactly like this one. Tesla Motors are also evolving and introducing an upgraded autopilot system. This happened after a fatal car crash raised eyebrows and question marks in regard with their self-driving systems.
But there is one problem. How can you make a car detect and solve a big series of traffic problems? A human thinks and manages to understand and find a solution to the problem whereas a machine might not. Secondly, the infrastructure is not yet prepared for this big step. Neither are all the other normal cars. A situation can occur in which the cars might not be aware of each other ‘s presence on the road.
A dead end?
The problems that Google and Tesla encountered might mean that the world is not yet prepared for such a big step forward. We are not saying that it cannot be done, but for now it might be for the best to keep searching for solutions. It is an impressive perspective, but for now let’s leave it like this: a perspective.
Image source: here