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Uber Announces Plan To Launch Self-Driving Cars In Washington DC

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Uber has announced that it is bringing its self-driving cars to Washington DC.


The ridesharing company said on 23rd January that it will begin mapping the streets of Washington DC. Mapping vehicles fitted with cameras and sensors will drive around the city collecting data for a few weeks.


High-definition maps are essential to making self-driving vehicles function properly. They help the cars know their position and navigate their surroundings safely.


The vehicles will however first have a human operator, maintaining control at all times.


“We are using a phased approach to develop and deploy our self-driving vehicles, taking the necessary steps to operate safely in every city,”  the head of Uber federal affairs, Danielle Burr said.


He added that:


“Manual data collection is the first step in our development process and part of how we are validating our self-driving expansion approach.”


Burr also commented on its role in transportation:


“We believe self-driving technology can play an important role in expanding transportation access and we’re committed to developing this technology with safety at its core.”


Uber Announces Plan To Bring Self Driving Cars To Washington DC
A self-driving uber manufactured by Volvo. Photo: Uber.
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Uber aims to test its autonomous vehicles in the city later in 2020. However, the company hasn’t provided an exact date. Until then, Uber only says the mapping data will allow it to capture scenarios unique to the capital. Then, it would virtually test how its vehicles would handle them in a simulated environment.

Uber self-driving vehicle currently operates in Pittsburgh

Uber has finished mapping Dallas, San Francisco, and Toronto. But, it’s autonomous vehicles currently only operate in Pittsburgh, where its self-driving team is based.


Waymo, Uber’s competition announced earlier that it will also be testing self-driving minivans and tractor-trailers in New Mexico and Texas.


Uber had put an end to self-driving tests in Arizona in March 2018, after one of its autonomous vehicles hit and killed a pedestrian.


An investigation by the National Transportation Safety Board released in November 2019 found that Uber’s test driver was distracted by their phone. It also found out that the company had a terrible safety culture contributing to the crash. The NTSB applauded Uber for cooperating with its investigation and said the company has made the necessary safety changes.


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