Dezeen Magazine

Uber is testing a driverless taxi on the streets of Pittsburgh

Taxi app Uber is the latest company to explore driverless car technology, confirming it is testing a self-navigating vehicle that could force its drivers out of their jobs. 

A Ford Fusion test car has been kitted out with radar, laser scanners and cameras by Uber's Advanced Technology Center, and will be mapping data across the American city.

In a statement, Uber – which has been credited with "radically disrupting" the taxi industry with its cash-free on-demand app – said it was aiming to make self-driving taxis as "reliable as running water".

It also said that self-driving cars had the potential to save millions of lives.

"1.3 million people die every year in car accidents – 94 per cent of those accidents involve human error," said Uber. "In the future we believe this technology will mean less congestion, more affordable and accessible transportation, and far fewer lives lost in car accidents."

Uber's comments follow on from statements made by Tesla founder Elon Musk, who said driving is too dangerous for humans and will be outlawed as soon as self-driving cars are proved to be safer.

The US Department of Transportation also backed this argument earlier this year when it unveiled plans to eradicate road accidents by increasing the number of autonomous vehicles.

Recently, one of Google's self-driving vehicles collided with a public bus in California

However, the technology is still being refined. An accident report recently revealed that one of Google's self-driving vehicles had collided with a public bus in Mountain View, California – soon after it became the first non-human to be recognised as a driver in the US.

For now, Uber's self-driving vehicle will still carry a trained driver to monitor its progress and comply with legal guidelines.

The race towards driverless cars has also seen prototypes and proposals from architecture firm Foster + Partners, tyre company Goodyear and car giants BMWAudi and Mercedes-Benz's self-driving truck set for Europe's roads in 10 years Mercedes-Benz.

Uber allows users to order a taxi on-demand, often at significantly lower cost than other local services, with payments automatically deducted from card details scanned into the app.

It was set up by Travis Kalanick and Garrett Camp in 2009 as a black car service for 100 friends in San Francisco, and went on to kickstart a transformation of the taxi industry that has caused uproar in numerous countries.