The Uber has started subjecting its autonomous self-driving vehicles to a series of tests on a makeshift city located in Pittsburg. The Fake City where the tests are being conducted is popularly known as ALMONO. It is strategically built on an ancient steel refining site located along the River Monongahela in Hazelwood.
The ALMONO has a large roundabout, faux vehicles, and roving mannequins which frequently barricade the path without issuing a prior notice. The track also includes several containers that prove useful in stimulating the buildings, consequently training the vehicles to operate normally despite the looming structures blocking their line of site.
Uber’s self-driving-car pilot has had its fair share of controversy in the recent past
The company has confirmed that the program is alive and underway in Pittsburg. Earlier this month, a new video was published of the ride-hailing giant showing a preview of its fake city. The clip illustrates how the company’s self-driving cars can tackle the road in the real world.
While ALMONO measures 42 acres, the Uber made a formal request to the Hazelwood Zoning Board asking for their permission to expand the city by an extra 13,000 square-feet. This application shows that the false city plays a critical role not only in prepping autonomous cars before entering the real world but also training their operators to get equipped for the unforeseen while behind the wheel.
In an interview with the press, one Uber operator named Rick McKahan had the following to tell us. “We’ve got several hurdles and mannequins moving around the street, and they can even cross without issuing a prior warning.
Uber’s self-driving vehicles have also had a reasonable amount of glitches
The video emerged last December showing an Uber heading straight through a red light. The company would later come out to claim that “human error” occasioned the hiccup.
In another incident, the Uber’s autonomous self-driving car in Arizona overturned after a head-on collision with another vehicle. Many questions were later raised about how effective self-driving cars are in responding to the human error. These incidences are not Uber’s direct fault. But they show that the company needs car operators to be keen on the road.
The reasonably vigorous program is used in training vehicle operators. The operators take three weeks to conclude the training program. Also, they have to pass multiple road tests and written assignments. An Uber representative who talked to our journalists on condition of anonymity said the program comprises “hundreds” of safe drivers, though he refused to give us a specific count.
The vehicle operators are required to first complete a practical program on the Fake City test track before going to monitor the vehicles in the real world. Once they have passed the ALMONO track testing, they can drive in Downtown Pittsburgh, Bloomfield Shadyside, the Strip District, the Squirrel Hill, Southside, and the Oakland. Uber cars also stay in the ALMONO until they have passed specific tests successfully. This includes braking whenever a mannequin shows up and obstructs the lane.
The Ford Company has also built a fake city
Besides Uber, the Ford has also built a fake city for training its self-driving cars. It is known MCity and is located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Ford’s phony city training ground measures about 32 acres. Uber revealed its autonomous self-driving vehicles for the very first time last September.
It seemed like a breakthrough for Uber because Google was yet to demonstrate its tech supremacy in the real world. This milestone showed Uber’s seriousness in becoming a key player in the autonomous space. The company has since rolled out programs in San Francisco and Arizona.
The Google’s offshoot company, Waymo, is suing Uber because they stole its intellectual property to advance their self-driving-car program. The trial will begin in December. But even as these tech behemoths face each other in court, the Uber is passionate about continuing its preparations for a ride-hailing future in downtown Pittsburg.