Uber expands its self-driving vehicle programme to San Francisco

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San Francisco customers of the car-hailing service Uber can now catch a ride in a self-driving vehicle, the company said Wednesday.

Uber began testing its self-driving technology in Pittsburgh in the late summer, and will now expand its efforts to its hometown, which offers a different range of driving conditions. The Californian city has more bicycles on the road, more traffic and narrower lanes, Uber said in a blog post.

For the San Francisco pilot, Uber is using a Volvo XC90. General Motors is also testing its self-driving vehicles in San Francisco.

Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s autonomous vehicle programme, justified the company’s decision to pursue the testing without gaining special permissions.

“We have looked at this issue carefully and we don’t believe we do [need a permit],” he wrote. Levandowski argued that humans will be sitting behind the wheels of the cars, and can take over control at any moment.

In the world-wide expansion of its driving service, Uber has time and again been accused of violating existing rules.

Uber is developing its own autonomous technology in order to avoid future dependance on auto manufacturers or possible competitors such as Google.

dpa