The move was prompted by the challenging roads of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, steering themselves to pick up regular Uber passengers who are used to being fetched by cars driven by humans.
Four of the Ford Fusion hybrids with their ungainly rooftop load of technology will be deployed to a select customers on Wednesday, with the company showing at least a dozen more ready to put on the streets.
And Uber is well-advanced in developing a self-drive car with Sweden’s Volvo, expected to become the mainstay of the program in the near future.
The cars and their backing technology have been trained on the city’s complicated grid for less than two years, but demonstration rides ahead of the launch showed them very able to handle most situations — as able as many drivers.
Still, just to be sure, the Pittsburgh Uber regulars who summon a driver-less car will also get two company technicians with them to make sure everything goes right.
One will sit behind the wheel, with hands at the ready to take over in sticky spots, while the other monitors the car’s behaviour.