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Uber Offering Select Rides in Self-Driving Cars in Pittsburgh

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Uber's driverless cars in Pittsburgh - four are on the road right now - include safety drivers in the vehicles' front seats as the rideshare company tests the service.

Specially trained Uber employees will pick up Pittsburgh passengers who agree to the possibility that they could be randomly assigned a self-driving auto when they request an UberX ride through the app. Rides will be free for now.

Still, just to be sure, the Pittsburgh Uber regulars who summon a driverless auto will have two company technicians accompanying them - to make sure everything goes right.

Uber wouldn't give Newshub an indication of when its self-driving cars might land in New Zealand, but the $100 billion company says it's looking forward to expanding its pilot.

"One-point-three million people die every year in auto accidents, 94 percent of those are human error, and we really think self-driving cars can make a dent in that statistic", says Uber's Raffi Krikorian.

Uber has launched a ground-breaking driverless vehicle service, jumping ahead of Detroit auto giants and Silicon Valley rivals with technology that could revolutionise transportation.

The Uber vehicles are equipped with everything from seven traffic-light detecting cameras to a radar system that detects different weather conditions to 20 spinning lasers that generates a continuous, 360 degree 3-D map of the surrounding environment.

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Sadly, fully driver-free Ubers likely won't be available until 2021, so you'll be stuck riding with somebody for at least a few more years.

"It scares me not to have a driver there with an Uber", said Claudia Tyler, a health executive standing near the entrance of an office in downtown Pittsburgh.

During the demonstration for reporters two engineers were seated in front - one ready to take control in case the auto encountered a situation it couldn't handle, the other monitoring the car's 3D map and scribbling notes on how to improve the car's software.

"We actually think of Pittsburgh as the double black diamond of driving".

Since the Pittsburgh service launched the company has said none of the six self-driving vehicles have had an accident. "If we can really tackle Pittsburgh, then we have a better chance of tackling most other cities around the world".

A study released Wednesday by the University of MI found that 23 percent of Americans wouldn't ride in a self-driving vehicle.

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