How national reporters described their driverless rides in Pittsburgh

“Your vision-impaired grandmother,” “an elaborate headdress of spinning lasers,” geekmobiles and more.

Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber ATC, speaks to the media Tuesday.

Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber ATC, speaks to the media Tuesday.

Jared Wickerham/Wick Photography
MJ Slaby

About 50 news organizations from across the country descended upon Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center in the Strip District on Monday and Tuesday.

They were there to see Uber’s driverless fleet ahead of its launch for public rides. As of 6 this morning, Uber’s “most loyal customers” now have the option to hail a driverless Uber — with some conditions, of course

We read as many national stories from the media days as we could find. Here were the highlights:

Multiple outlets mentioned that Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Center, called Pittsburgh “the double-black diamond of driving” and whether or not the car could handle a Pittsburgh left. (The Incline was also guilty of the latter.)

Some were pretty creative in their descriptions.

Journalists echoed each other in reporting how cautious the self-driving cars were. So cautious, that The Atlantic said “the cars tended to drive like your vision-impaired grandmother.”

Atop the cars sit stacked cameras and sensors that help it know what’s around. Or if you’re Wired, it was “an elaborate headdress of spinning lasers and enough cameras to document the Super Bowl.” The tech publication also wasn’t too kind to the legally necessary “safety driver” and data-collecting engineer who rides shotgun, calling them “bags of meat.” Uber won’t say when the driver and engineer will be removed from the requested rides.

The Los Angeles Times kept it simple: geekmobiles.

Buzzfeed compared the cars that drive themselves to elevators — yes, elevators — saying the transition from human-operated elevators to automated ones was “so jarring” that sometimes a voice narration was added.

And The Verge won the award for the best description of the Strip District, saying the streets were “lined with gorgeous Romanesque brick factories” and the “Allegheny River sparkled seductively through the trees.”