DETROIT (CBSNewYork/AP) — Ride-hailing service Uber says it will start hauling passengers with self-driving cars on the streets of Pittsburgh in next several weeks.
The company says the autonomous Ford Fusions will have human backup drivers but will transport passengers just like normal Uber vehicles.
Uber has a self-driving research lab in Pittsburgh and is working on autonomous technology.
Also Thursday, Uber and Volvo announced a $300 million deal for Volvo to provide SUVs to Uber for autonomous vehicle research. Eventually the Volvo SUVs will be part of the self-driving fleet in Pittsburgh.
The development of autonomous driving technology is not without its share of controversy. In May, Joshua D. Brown of Canton, Ohio, the 40-year-old owner of a technology company, was killed in Williston, Florida, when his Tesla Model S cameras failed to distinguish the white side of a turning tractor-trailer from a brightly lit sky and didn’t automatically activate its brakes, according to statements by the government and the automaker.
Following the incident, Consumer Reports magazine criticized Tesla, urging the company to remove the feature saying in a statement that calling the system Autopilot promotes a dangerous assumption that Teslas can drive themselves.
Investing in cab-hailing services can be a way for automakers to sell more cars. Earlier this year, Toyota made an investment in the company, along with offering a lease deal to drivers. General Motors Co. invested $500 million in Uber rival Lyft.
Uber is based in San Francisco.
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