Uber Is Trying to Bring Its Self-Driving Vehicles to Washington DC

This month, Uber announced plans to bring its self-driving vehicles to D.C. The transportation company began collecting data in the District on Jan. 24 to do so.

Danielle Burr, head of Uber’s federal affairs, made the announcement in a Medium post, along with an in-person announcement from Eric Meyhofer, CEO of Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), during the annual Washington Auto Show last week.

Based in Pittsburgh, 10-year-old Uber ATG is leading the charge on the transportation company’s self-driving tech initiatives. D.C. is the fifth market Uber is working in to bring self-driving initiatives, following Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.

The self-driving cars that hit the roads last week in D.C. are actually in manual driving mode, meaning trained mission specialists will control the vehicles at all times during the data collection period.

“We are using a phased approach to develop and deploy our self-driving vehicles, taking the necessary steps to operate safely in every city,” Burr wrote in the Medium post. “Manual data collection is the first step in our development process and part of how we are validating our self-driving expansion approach.”

During this first round of data collection, Uber is hoping to develop HD maps, capture city-specific driving scenarios and run the data through its autonomy system in simulation for further testing. The transportation company said that it plans to work with local stakeholders and city to ensure the best safety tactics.

“Offering Uber riders a choice in how they get around their city is a powerful thing. That’s why at Uber we’re proud to help bring people closer to the things they need,” Burr wrote. “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.”

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