Uber puts self-driving cars on the road

Posted at 11:56 AM, Feb 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-23 08:12:31-05

PHOENIX, AZ (KCPQ/CNN) – Experts promise self-driving cars will make driving safer, faster and more accessible for everyone.

Arizona is one of the main proving grounds for them because of its consistent weather and grid street system.

Call an Uber in the Phoenix area and you just might get one.

There will be a human behind the wheel ready to take over if necessary, but the car will be doing the driving until then.

"This vehicle sees all around, constantly," Dima Kislovskiy with Uber said. He’s a senior technical program manager for the company’s self-driving cars.

The vehicles are fitted with something called a LIDAR – light detection and ranging.

"It's a laser. It's doing a 360-degree sweep around the vehicle,” Kislovskiy said. “What it helps us do is detect the range of various objects."

It works kind of like sonar. The vehicle also uses seven cameras and onboard radar to it give it a 3D high-definition view of everything around it.

The Uber self-driving vehicle keeps track of things like other cars and trucks, lane markers, cross walks, traffic lights, sidewalks, traffic lights, bicycles and pedestrians.

Uber has been testing these $300,000 vehicles for more than a year. They’ve made 50,000 trips and rolled up 2 million miles.

Uber said it hasn’t had a single accident involving one of its self-driving cars.

Still, most Americans say they’re not ready for them yet.

According to the AAA, 63 percent say they're too afraid to ride in a fully self-driving vehicle.

“We change those perceptions by bringing this technology to real people," Brian Cullinane, Uber’s product lead for self-driving cars.

"I think we're right at the start of it," he said. "We're figuring out how this technology can really be developed and we see the promise in it and we will get there."

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