Wednesday, February 08, 2017

How Will Those Self-Drivng Cars Work

They won't, but to work better they need a lot of public investment.
Pittsburgh has put up with Uber for a long time. The city stayed quiet as Uber gutted Carnegie Mellon for robotics talent in early 2015, and welcomed the Advanced Technologies Center it later set up. Pittsburgh wrote a letter in support of Uber when the company was fined $11.4 million for operating in Pennsylvania without permission. And in September, Pittsburgh opened its streets to tests of self-driving cars with real people, and played along with Uber’s hasty and elaborate press event.

From Uber, Pittsburgh wanted help winning the 2016 Smart City Challenge, a US Department of Transportation competition with a $50 million prize. In May 2016, Peduto asked Uber to spend $25 million on a new transit connection from Carnegie Mellon to the neighborhood where it would be testing autonomous vehicles. Uber not only refused, but came back with a laundry list of things that Pittsburgh could do to better accommodate Uber, among them access to bus lanes, designated pick-up and drop-off spots for self-driving cars, and “prioritization of snow removal” on self-driving car routes. “I would be voted out of office,” Peduto retorted at the time. “You aren’t offering anything back to the public.”

Next time just ask me.