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Uber self-driving fleet has 'safety drivers' to take control - CNET

James Martin/CNET

Before Rick McKahan could even get behind the wheel of one of Uber's self-driving cars as a "safety driver," he had to spend days driving around a small simulated city in Pennsylvania, handling corners and dodging obstacles.

Now he's tasked with training other safety drivers at Uber's test track in Pittsburgh.

At the ride-hailing company's autonomous vehicle training facility on the banks of the city's lush, green Monongahela River, aka "The Mon," Uber's self-driving cars learn to navigate the roads. And prospective safety drivers spend three weeks learning to operate the robo-cars -- Ford Fusions and Volvo XC90s -- so they can take over when needed.

"When we simulate real world experiences, we make that the worse-case scenario," said McKahan, a 28-year-old who was an oil and gas professional before he joined Uber last year to become a vehicle operator trainer. "When they get off the test track and get onto the public road, that actually seems easier than...(continued)

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