At the beginning of last year the company Uber has announced its intention to develop its own technology for autonomous driving. Then it seemed that Uber until a full car is still very far - at least 2-3 years. And this despite the fact that a giant like Google Inc. is working in this direction for several years. But no, the other day CEO Travis Kalanick (Travis Kalanick) announced that later this month in Pittsburgh (Pennsylvania, USA) in a test mode will start working in the world's first robotic taxi service.
The company plans to use about 100 modified cars Volvo XC90s. Each taxi is equipped with a full autonomous control system. However, the machine will not drive on the roads without the people of Pittsburgh. Behind the wheel will be the company's employee - engineer, who will be able in the event of an emergency situation to take control in their hands. Beside him in the passenger seat will be "co-pilot": the person who will analyze the situation. The trip "co-pilot" will take notes about the features of autonomous control systems. A stay with a liquid-cooled computer in the trunk of a car, it is a central part of the whole system, its "brain".
As the company Uber managed to create its own version of a stand-alone car so fast? The fact that management understands the complexity of the task, and decided to hire the best professionals who work in the development of the weak form of AI. Were hired dozens of people. Project headquarters was opened in the Pittsburgh, where he goes running robotaksi.
The city is the University of Carnegie Mellon. In this university, the faculty at a robotics learning, many experts now known their experience in the field of autonomous vehicles control systems. In particular, it was here that he studied and worked as a stand-alone unit car maker Googe Tran Sebastian (Sebastian Thrun). At the university he worked on robotics car for seven years, then I began to work on the same topic already as a Google employee. Graduate students of the University and was the former head of Google robomobiley units Urmson Chris (Chris Urmson).
Chapter Uber has long wanted to create your own robomobil. This was told the head of Carnegie Robotics John Bares (John Bares). Now the company produces components for autonomous robots that are used in mining, agriculture and warfare. "I tried to lower it down to the ground three times. But in this case [the creation robotaksi - approx. Ed.] He was persistent, "- said the head of the Uber Bares. He bares himself joined the transport company in January 2015, and since then has hired hundreds of engineers, robotics and general mechanics for participation in the project of creating an autonomous Uber car. The company's goal is very ambitious - to replace more than 1 million of its drivers an autonomous control system as soon as possible.
Many scientists argue that to create a fully autonomous driving systems, there are still many years, perhaps decades. Kalanik disagrees, arguing that his company is able to do everything much faster. That's because, he says, that the Uber - a commercial company and not a research institution, and you need to work quickly. For now developing similar technology, many companies, including Google, Tesla Motors, Ford, Volvo, Mercedes and other companies.
Volvo and Uber signed a cooperation agreement, agreeing to invest about $ 300 million to create a full-fledged robot car that could get in the way cities in the US and other countries already by 2021. Uber entered into a transaction of this kind, and with other companies. The company continues to hire experts in robotics and capable mechanics, which also involve in the project robotaksi.
Unlike Google and Tesla company Uber has no plans to produce its own cars. Instead, she is developing a unified management system for autonomous cars from other manufacturers, primarily for Volvo Cars of models. Autonomous vehicle control system, which is equipped with a Volvo XC90, includes cameras, lasers, radars and GPS modules.
Already this month, residents can call the Pittsburgh robotaksi using conventional Uber app for your mobile phone. Passengers will be able to be placed only in the back seat of the car. But this trip will be completely free in the city. Passengers travel time will be provided to the plates, the display which will show the remaining to the target path. Clients of the company will be able to see and an explanation on how the machine operates with autonomous control.
The most difficult part of the trip according robotoksi Uber developers are bridges. Their Pittsburgh 500, and each of them is different. An employee of the company, which takes the place of the driver, will take the wheel in your hands, if a single beep when approaching the bridge or any other place. The second signal will indicate that the computer took it over.
Many months Uber company worked on the creation of detailed maps for their robotaksi. Maps include not only expensive, they are marked buildings, fire hydrants, traffic lights and everything that is on the streets of Pittsburgh. Starting to move the car automatically collects data about the surrounding objects. All this information is processed using a PC located in the trunk, as mentioned above. Vehicle while driving compares what is on the map with the current situation. Robotaksi thus able to recognize pedestrians, cyclists and other objects.
Work is progressing very quickly. As you can see, the company is making some progress. According Kalanika, all this is possible thanks to the fact that the company kept hiring new talent. "If Uber wants to overtake Google and be a leader in the field of autonomous vehicles control systems, we must have the best minds", - he says