The following letter to the editor was published in the New York Times on May 29, 2017 in response to "Soured on Uber,"published on May 22, 2017.

To the editor:

In Cecilia Kang’s article about the relationship between Uber and the city of Pittsburgh (“Soured on Uber;” Technology; May 22, 2017) a company representative is quoted as saying “Uber is proud to have put Pittsburgh on the self-driving map.”

There’s no question Uber’s presence has had an effect on Pittsburgh. However, the truth is Pittsburgh helped draw the self-driving map that captured Uber’s interest.

Much of the seminal technology for autonomous vehicles was developed [starting in 1984] and continues to be advanced by engineers and computer scientists here at Carnegie Mellon University.

Pittsburgh’s always been a smart city—in both senses of the word.

James H. Garrett & Andrew Moore, Deans, Carnegie Mellon University

This workand related work from other local universities—didn’t happen overnight or in a vacuum. Pittsburgh, long known for innovation and “can do” spirit, was a willing early test ground for multiple transportation-focused technologies. That includes breakthrough work in how traffic lights, cars, trucks, buses and bicyclesyes, bicyclescommunicate with one another to ensure safety and smooth travel. Carnegie Mellon University’s cross-disciplinary Traffic21 and Metro21 centers study and test all elements of transportation, from technology and policy to urban planning. Data and analytics are collected to quantify the community and create a portrait of the hard scape and soft scape of our city. In addition, drones, advanced manufacturing (3-D printing)all of which have a role in a “smart city,” are just a sampling of what has been underway in Pittsburgh for some time.

Pittsburgh’s geography, layout and size are conducive to testing new technologies in multiple terrains and situations on an accelerated timeline. But more important is that this city, famed for “making things” and for its educational institutions, fostered an environment that encouraged new ideas.

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Read the original article: Soured on Uber,” and the published Letter to the Editor.

This literal and figurative groundwork attracted Uber to Pittsburgh…just as it’s drawn Google, Ford, Bosch, GM, GE, and scores of othersand will continue to do so.

Autonomy and connectivity are core to a “smart city,” but let’s remember that all technology is created by people with big ideas and fostered by other people willing to give those ideas a try.

Pittsburgh’s always been a smart cityin both senses of the wordand we’re proud and excited by our relationship with the city and its starring role in connected vehicles and smart cities.

James H. Garrett Jr.
Dean, College of Engineering
Carnegie Mellon University

Andrew Moore
Dean, School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University