Let it Ride

Brands bet on self-driving car technology

As part of an ongoing quest to optimize their time, youth have been eager to outsource tasks like home maintenance (71%), cleaning (69%), and lawn care (68%) in recent years. Now, thanks to nascent auto innovations, they have another task to add to the list: driving. 


A year and a half ago, Uber set up an Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh with the mission of making self-driving Ubers a reality. This month, that dream was actualized with the launch of the first self-driving Ubers, now on the road in the Steel City as part of its partnership with Volvo. Uber is inviting its most loyal Pittsburgh customers to experience the service first. If a self-driving Uber is available, the company will send it along with a safety driver to ensure sure the ride goes smoothly and to help quell concerns from less adventurous riders.


Volvo is joining forces with Autoliv, a leader in automotive safety systems, to form a new company that will develop next-generation autonomous driving software. The collaboration is the latest move in a high-tech push by the Swedish carmaker in an industry that’s racing to adopt the newest software, where self-driving tech is seen at the forefront. Autoliv has already worked with Volvo on its semi-autonomous vehicle features, including the company’s “Drive Me” suite of offerings, which are similar to Tesla’s Autopilot. The company will have its headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden and is expected to launch in early 2017.


A new patent application filed by Google would allow the tech giant to improve its autonomous driving technology by enabling its smart cars to detect and avoid police and other emergency vehicles. The technology will use filters that spot red and blue flashing lights, and software will be able to identify which form of vehicle is approaching by noting the spacing of the lights. Google is one of the main contenders in the bid for self-driving car dominance. Previously, the company revealed predictive technology that would allow for cars to anticipate where drivers want to go and to drive slowly when children are detected.