​Uber to launch self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh

By the end of the month, Uber riders in Pittsburgh will be able to ride in a self-driving Volvo XC90 under the supervision of a person in the driver's seat.

Following initial testing back in May, Uber has announced later this month customers in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will be able to request a ride in self-driving cars using their Uber app.

Uber's fleet of self-driving cars, according to a report by Bloomberg Businessweek, will consist of specifically modified Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles fitted with sensors that use cameras, lasers, radar, and GPS receivers.

But when the cars hit the roads, for the time being, they will be supervised by people in the driver's seat, and rides will be free, Uber said.

The test cars used during the initial trials, however, were hybrid Ford Fusion, indicating Uber has not ruled out the idea of expanding its self-driving fleet with other car manufacturers. Earlier this week, Ford promised to deliver fully autonomous and driverless ride-sharing vehicles by 2021.

During the trials, Uber said it believed self-driving cars are safer, noting 94 percent of fatal car accidents involve human error.

"Self-driving cars have the potential to save millions of lives and improve quality of life for people around the world. In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents," the company said.

The self-driving cars have been developed at Uber's Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technologies Center. Launched in partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), the centre is focused on technology developments, including driverless cars, to improve customer safety.

Last September, Uber provided CMU $5.5 million to further aid the development of driverless cars and robotics.

The latest announcement comes as the ride-booking service enters the trucking market, acquiring autonomous truck startup Otto, with the potential of allowing Uber to charge higher fees, take a cut of freight, and offer a more predictable revenue stream.

Meanwhile, Uber users in India are now able to request an Uber without using the app. Instead, riders can request an UberGo by navigating to dial.uber.com on their mobile browser, registering their phone number, requesting a driver, and having the option to pay by cash. The service is currently available in Nagpur, Kochi, Guwahati, and Jodhpur.