Uber, the ride-sharing company, may soon begin testing their self driving cars at the former LTV Coke Works site in Hazelwood. The site itself is 178 acres, which would be ideal for testing self driving cars over the next few years, after a few adjustments made by Uber. The Hazelwood site is owned by a consortium of foundations known as Almono LP.
City Councilman Corey O’Connor, who represents Hazelwood, said the project will last for about 3 to 5 years at that location, at which time Uber will move out and the site will be prepped for offices, housing and other development.
“They’re going to put some pavement down, but they will remove it. It actually really fits well with the master plan because once they move out it’s about time for the residents and the homes that we’re going to build to develop about 3 to 5 years down the road. So, the timing is perfect, it’s going to create a couple of jobs in the neighborhood and it’s actually a worldwide name, which really attracts people to the Hazelwood residency,” said O’Connor.
O’Connor said he thinks Uber was attracted to the Hazelwood location for a number of reasons, one of which could be the fact that a year ago, Almono and CMU, a local University, announced a joint venture to create a robotics research lab and technology center, which would in part be devoted to driverless vehicles.
“They are getting more and more involved in the City of Pittsburgh, and when you look at a great site, that has a great location, that’s really close to Downtown, that’s really close to the universities and really, a great place for Uber to continue to thrive after this testing is done, Hazelwood’s the spot,” O’Connor said. “When you see a lot of movement going on in the neighborhood – there’s new bakeries, there’s new storefronts – that’s really the type of business we want to attract there and then, the ripple effect will hopefully come from Uber opening in Hazelwood”
While the details of the plan are yet to be finalized, O’Connor said, given the potential benefits, he is likely to support it. Uber will renovate an old locomotive roundhouse at the LTV Coke Works site in Hazelwood, and it will build temporary roadways to test self-driving cars as part of its expansion, as well as housing and park space.
Google, Apple, Ford, and Tesla are some of the biggest names in this new emerging industry, with the mention that when it comes to Apple, we only know rumors about it. And up until now, it was the same case with Uber, but now the company is making it clear that they are quite serious about their plans when it comes to autonomous cars.
Back in 2015, an autonomous car with “Uber Advanced Technologies” written on the side was spotted, which made many envision a future where self-driving Uber cars are picking up and dropping off passengers. And while this is probably still years away from reality, it’s now becoming quite clear that Uber is genuinely interested in this.