Ride-sharing company Uber continues to expand and explore new opportunities. In February, it announced its Advanced Technologies Center in Pittsburgh that will bolster company efforts around vehicle technology. Though details are sparse, Uber’s first test vehicle has recently been spotted around the city.
"This vehicle is part of our early research efforts regarding mapping, safety and autonomy systems," Uber spokeswoman Trina Smith told the Pittsburgh Business Times via email. This vehicle is not a self-driving car, the company noted.
The center is located near Carnegie Mellon University, which is a partner on the project. Students from the university’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) can use the center to experiment with new modes of vehicle technology.
While most of the company’s capital has been put toward opening its platform in the 58 countries and 162 cities where cars can be hired today, the technology center represents an exploration out of the service industry and into the realm of technology and research. At a valuation of $50 billion and growing, Uber is today at a turning point where its research efforts may fall flat, or its incredible potential and huge data stores will challenge the likes of Google, as the search giant and others vie for space in the fast changing world of transportation.
Most recently, Uber met with banks to attain a $1 billion line of credit, which some link with plans for an initial public offering.