Lonely Planet Writer

Fancy an automated Uber ride? Head to Pittsburgh for a unique experience

If you have been itching to go for a spin in a driverless car, head to Pittsburgh for a unique cab experience. The car service company Uber will be the first commercial ride service offering a driverless transport service. Uber and Google are both keen to break into the driverless car business, and Uber has taken the first victory in the automated car race.

An Uber automated-vehicle taking a test-drive on the 31st Street Bridge
An Uber automated-vehicle taking a test-drive on the 31st Street Bridge, Pittsburgh. Image by Getty Images

Starting in the next few weeks, Uber users in Pittsburgh will receive one of the new, specially designed driverless cars at random. The company has teamed up with Volvo to create state of the art vehicles to work with the automated software. The custom XC90s will be equipped with special sensors, GPS receivers, lasers and other devices to help hone the driverless experience. Each self-driving Uber will have two drivers in the car, a person in the driver’s seat to take control if and when required (bridges seem to be difficult for the software to handle) and a technician who constantly takes notes on a laptop about the car’s performance.

In order to prepare riders for the Uber experience of the future, a sign is posted inside the car that discourages any interaction with the drivers. The driverless cars will be sent at random to Pittsburgh riders, and the ride will be free.

Pittsburgh is a beautiful northeastern city, full of bridges (uh-oh, Uber!) and interesting art and sporting events. Home to the Andy Warhol Museum and the Pirates MLB team and the Steelers NFL team, this city of 300,000 boasts a wealth of top-notch creative and culinary offerings, as well as an abundance of natural beauty.