Uber is laying the ground work for bringing self-driving ride hailing vehicles to the nation’s capital.  Uber’s Head of Federal Affairs, Danielle Burr says today they’re beginning to collect data in Washington, D.C.  Right now, a person (what Uber calls a Mission Specialist) will be driving the vehicles during this exploratory process.  Uber says they have a method for studying cities before they start deploying self-driving vehicles.  They begin by surveying the city to develop high-definition maps that will be a key source of information for the self-driving system.  They’re also looking for situations unique to each city that can be simulated and incorporated into on-track testing.  From there they compile the information. incorporate it into their autonomy system, and conduct simulations on a test track.  All that happens before the self-driving cars actually hit the road.

Uber is no stranger to Washington, D.C.  Their ride hailing service has been operating in the district since 2011. Uber Advanced Technologies Group is also studying self-driving ride sharing in Dallas, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Toronto.