Uber begins prepping terrain in Washington DC for self-driving cars

Uber is beginning to manually collect road and city data that will be used by their self-driving cars

Uber's Advanced Technologies Group this week outlined its plans to get its self-driving cars and systems ready for taking to the streets in Washington DC.

Uber is beginning the preliminary road and city data collection process in Washington DC necessary to eventually launch a fleet of autonomous cars on the capital's roads, it noted in an article posted on Medium. This process is the first step of the brand's "phased approach to develop and deploy [their] self-driving vehicles."

This data collection phase is manual, meaning that the self-driving cars that will be traveling through the city are manned by a person, a "specially trained vehicle operator." Information collected from these trips will be used by Uber to create HD maps, capture real-life driving scenarios that are unique to the area and refine its expansion methodology.

Only two of Uber's self-driving vehicles will be operating in the city at a time, and they will only be driven during daylight hours.

After Phase 1 of the development process is complete, the company will begin the second, which consists of a computer driving the vehicle but with a driver behind the wheel. The third phase will bring public passengers into the computer-manned vehicle; at this point, however, there will still be a driver present to provide back-up intervention if necessary. It's not until the final step of the development process that the car will be allowed to function without someone in the driver seat.

DC is the fifth city in which the company has begun this process following Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto.