App-based cab service Uber is all set to start its autonomous cab service in the city of Pittsburg, in the US state of Pennsylvania. This is the first time that autonomous cars, will be made available to the general public.
Uber users who opt into a test program will soon be able to summon an autonomous Ford Fusion hybrid sedan to ferry them around the city. To entice users to try the self-driving cabs, the autonomous cab rides will be free.
Uber has not stated how many of the autonomous cabs will hit the streets of Pittsburg, where it operates a self-driving research lab. However, since the autonomous technology is still being tested, there will be a backup driver sitting behind the wheel of each car, to take control, in case of any emergency.
Switching over to autonomous cars will help Uber cut away its biggest expense, paying drivers to drive their cabs around.
Speaking to the Associated Press, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said that the development of autonomous cars is of prime importance for the app-based cab service. Kalanick said, "We've got to be laser-focused on getting this to market, because it's not a side project for us. This is everything. This is all the marbles for Uber."
Other companies including software giant Google are testing autonomous cars but none are currently offering autonomous cars to the public.