Mapping self-driving cars

Uber’s self-driving vehicles head for Pittsburgh’s North Hills, where the ride-share customers are

Keep helping us map the expansion of autonomous cars in the Pittsburgh area.

Where we've seen self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, as of Oct. 25, 2017.

Where we've seen self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, as of Oct. 25, 2017.

MJ Slaby

If you want to find self-driving Uber Volvos, go where the ride-share users are.

Sure, that means busy Pittsburgh neighborhoods like Downtown, the Strip District and South Side — but it also means going north to the shopping-plaza-lined McKnight Road.

Last month, The Incline asked readers for help mapping self-driving cars, since the multiple companies testing vehicles in town don’t provide such specifics. (We still need your help, more on that below.)

Uber goes north

Not surprisingly, given Uber’s visible branding, most feedback has been about its self-driving Volvos. Here’s a new map showing where autonomous Ubers have been spotted. The shaded neighborhoods are where the cars have been regularly spotted and/or where they are picking up ride-share users.

What’s new

  • Multiple spots to the north, including repeated sightings on McKnight Road
  • A sighting in the Monroeville area
  • A few sightings along River Avenue, near neighborhoods like the North Shore and Strip District, where the cars are regularly
Uber only

Where the riders are

Uber told The Incline on Wednesday that the self-driving Volvos in the McKnight Road area are in the testing and development phase and are not yet picking up riders.

Before self-driving Ubers can become part of the company’s ride-sharing network, vehicle operators take the autonomous cars out to gather data about the static objects that aren’t on a typical map, such as buildings, stoplights and stop signs. (If you’ve ridden in a self-driving Uber, that’s what appears on the iPad in blue. The cars use sensors to “see” moving objects like other cars and pedestrians in real-time.)

Gathering data for the mapping team ensures that details on the ground are correct, Lisa Fischer, a test operator for Uber who does mapping trips and picks up passengers, told The Incline in August.

She and vehicle operator Aaron Garcia agreed that whether or not there is a rider in the car, Uber operators must be good drivers, because it helps instill trust in the technology as people become more familiar with the self-driving cars.

Uber is the only self-driving car company in Pittsburgh currently picking up people through ride-sharing (in nine city neighborhoods), though Delphi now has ties to Lyft, the Post-Gazette reported. Per Uber, one way the company chooses testing and mapping areas is based on how popular it is for ride-sharing.

The overall map

Here’s a look at all additions since launching the map. Check out the interactive version here.

  • Purple is for Uber.
  • Blue is for Argo AI.
  • Orange is for all other companies.

What’s new: 

  • A second Argo AI autonomous car was spotted on East Carson Street.
  • A self-driving car from an unidentified company was seen in O’Hara Township. Here’s the description from our reader: “A black sedan, and the parts on the top were attached to a black roof rack.” Although the car was near Delphi’s office in the RIDC Industrial Park, it’s likely not a Delphi car since the company is testing self-driving cars without cameras and sensors on top.
Full map

Keep sending tips our way

To send us a photo and vehicle’s location:

Want some more? Explore other Mapping self-driving cars stories.

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