Uber’s self-driving taxis will get their first real-world test in Pittsburgh this month, with the semi-autonomous vehicles assigned at random to customers using the company’s app. According to a report from Bloomberg, the test fleet will consist of modified Volvo XC90 SUVs, with each car supervised by a human in the driver’s seat (a legal requirement) as well as a co-pilot taking notes. The trips themselves will be free, with a tablet in the backseat informing the passenger about the car’s capabilities.
Pittsburgh has been the home of Uber’s self-driving ambitions since 2014, when the company began its quest to poach engineers from the robotics department of the city’s Carnegie Mellon University. By early 2016, says Bloomberg, Uber had a team of hundreds of engineers, roboticists, and mechanics at its Advanced Technologies Center. Self-driving test vehicles were soon spotted around the city, and in May the company released its first official photo of a prototype vehicle — a modified Ford Fusion.