Recently the driver-on-demand service confirmed that it had opened a research facility in Pittsburgh. The lab is said to be dealing with "research and development, primarily in the areas of mapping and vehicle safety and autonomy technology". So we may expect Uber to be in good earnest to build an “autonomous taxi fleet”. According to TechCrunch, the taxi service hired over fifty scientists from Carnegie Mellon University and National Robotics Engineering Center.
We do not know yet if the project is going to be somehow connected with Google's self-driving initiative, but the companies have been cooperating quite closely so far. Previously, Uber received a substantial support from Google Ventures and the service was even integrated into Google Maps. However, as Uber's lab is situated outside the Silicon Valley, and Bloomberg Business reports that Google is going to launch its own self-driving taxi service, there are some doubts as for the future of friendship between the megacorp and Uber. Nevertheless, there are still no comments on the matter from any of the sides, so the question of cooperation between companies remains a debatable one.
We don't know yet if Google is going to wage a war against Uber or maybe the companies want to divide their tasks, as it will take a lot of time and effort before the first self-driving taxi will hit the streets. No exact dates, no photos of prototypes so far, but stay tuned and we will tell you when the situation clarifies.