Pittsburgh Drives Innovation

No more taking keys away from aging parents. No more parallel parking–although Maryland no longer requires it for driver license testing, sadly. No more driving restrictions for medical reasons.

We won’t be driving, we’ll be riding if autonomous cars reign on the roadways.

Carnegie Mellon (CMU)’s Navlab birthed an autonomous vehicle in 1984. Since then, many other groups started researching and developing this technology: GM, Google, Stanford University, Mercedes-Benz, and Toyota are just a few. Self-driving cars are around the corner, I can feel it.

Full disclosure: of course I’m biased towards self-driving vehicles due to my visual impairment whitch restricts me from driving. I desire  to enjoy the independence and convenience of driving again. There’s no behind-the-wheel with these eyes.

That aside, those in the tech sector working to bring driverless cars to the masses gained attention this week. Uber appears to be snapping up tech brains with higher salaries and bonuses to seize victory in the development of reliable vehicles, especially if you’re an engineer at CMU’s National Robotics Engineering Center. CMU dismissed concerns about poached employees in this Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article.

Pittsburghghhh. That’s where CMU sits and where Uber is setting up its Advanced Technologies Center as it originally partnered with CMU earlier this year to work closely with its bright researchers. Sunny SoCal with Google, Apple, Stanford, etc is a great place to teeth driverless cars, but Pittsburgh is where a driverless car can go to grow up.

Antiquated road systems? Check. Brutal winters? Check. Pittsburgh Lefts? Check. Bridges, tunnels, mass transit, intoxicated college students roaming in irregular pedestrian patterns? Check. Nothing but love for wayward undergrads, I’m a Pitt alum.

The pack of organizations racing to create the best technology for autonomous cars continues to widen. You can catch me in the grandstands with my monocular, cheering on the competition.

Key chain with keytags sits next to a monoccular


9 Comments Add yours

  1. Drew says:

    City of Champions, baby.
    Really enjoyed this post 🙂

  2. Yeah!!! We’ve also got jaywalking down to a science. My O&M instructor told me that CMU recently tested the Google car on a trip from the city to the airport and it did quite well. There were a couple of hiccups but I’m sure the folks at CMU will get those worked out in no time.

    1. Jaywalking is a way of life in the Burgh, ha.

      1. Yup and I feel sorry for the police because every now and then they try to enforce the “no jaywalking” law but then we always go back to the way it was.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Great article Captain!
    Big G

  4. Joy says:

    Love this article! I have a cousin who is working for Google on their version of the self-driving car….and I’m glued to him at holiday meals, asking him a million questions, from when it will be ready for the public to price point, etc…..of course most of the time he just says “it’s top secret”! He has, however, said that it will definitely be available to the public in the near future, and that most people will be able to “use” one but not “own” one, so more like a self-driving Uber. I’ll take what I can get at this point!

    1. The rental strategy is interesting. Frankly, I find car maintenance a hassle so renting the service occasionally without bearing the insurance and upkeep duties makes a lot of sense to me.

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