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Pittsburgh Mayor Slams Uber: Will This Affect Its Driverless Car Efforts?

Benjamin Rains

Uber hit another bump on the road to driverless car domination as Pittsburgh’s mayor pushed back on the ride-sharing startup’s autonomy in the city.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto recently stated his concern that Uber is not pulling its fair share in the agreement to test its self-driving car technology in the city. Peduto believes that Uber should be doing more to give back to Pittsburgh since the city is allowing Uber to conduct driverless car tests that other cities have fought successfully against.

“If they are going to be involved in economic disruption, they have a moral obligation to society,” Mayor Peduto told the Wall Street Journal. “In a partnership, it’s not just what we can do for them.”

Uber planted its self-driving seeds in Pittsburgh almost two years ago when it set up an “Advanced Technologies Center.” In September 2016, Pittsburgh became the first city in the world to allow self-driving Uber passenger trials. The seven-year-old ride-hailing company is currently testing its driverless car technology in Pittsburgh with human monitors behind the wheel.

It is unclear at the moment exactly what Mayor Peduto hopes Uber will do for the city. Nevertheless, a drastic change from Uber seems necessary as the mayor’s stance has shifted quickly since the initial September announcement.

“It’s not our role to throw up regulations or limit companies like Uber,” Peduto told the New York Times in September. “You can either put up red tape or roll out the red carpet. If you want to be a 21st-century laboratory for technology, you put out the carpet.”

Uber recently reached a settlement with the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission to end the court battle related to its $11.4 million fine for operating without proper permission. The lawsuit dates back to Uber’s early days in the state in 2014, when the company blatantly operated without the proper permits for months. The ride-sharing giant agreed to pay roughly $3.5 million in fines, which marks the largest fine ever assessed by the regulatory body.

Uber continues to race towards its ultimate goal of becoming completely driverless, transporting passengers throughout the world without the heavy cost of paying drivers. The company also hopes its move to driverless ride-sharing cars will help reduce traffic accidents and deaths.

For now, you can add the company’s pressure in Pittsburgh to its growing list of troubles. Uber has faced recent charges of sexism and sexual harassment at its offices. One of its self-driving cars flipped over in Arizona, and a video surfaced showing Uber CEO Travis Kalanick berating and demeaning an Uber driver while he was a passenger.

One of the biggest potential controversies Uber faces is a lawsuit from Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL new self-driving car company Waymo. The lawsuit accuses Uber of stealing corporate secrets for its own self-driving car development.

Head here for a more in-depth look at Uber’s competition, controversy, and the possibility of a 2017 IPO.

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