Uber Acknowledges Its Autonomous Cars Have Trouble with Bike Lanes

22 Dec

By Anmol Sachdeva, The Tech Portal

The past two weeks have been completely full with allegations against the lacking safety of Uber’s self-driving vehicles. They’d been spotted committing a series of traffic violations, ranging from running red lights to failing to yield for pedestrians since the public pilot of their cab service in the streets of San Francisco. But the ride-hailing giant hadn’t dispensed a statement addressing the grievances until today.

In a statement sent to The Guardian, Uber has admitted to ‘problems’ with its autonomous vehicles. The spokesperson mentioned that their modified cabs are having trouble in acknowledging the bike lanes. Thus, it is facing more pressure due to a problem, termed as “right hook” turning, which puts cyclists at grave risk of accident and injury. The vehicles have been cutting into these lanes instead of merging into them before making a turn, as is legally required.

This serious problem with the autonomous vehicles being tested on the streets was first pointed out by the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, who issued a warning to the company. In the official blog post, Brian Wiedenmeier, a member of the bicycle group, mentioned that he had taken a ride in one of the autonomous Uber’s and it wasn’t strictly adhering to traffic rules. The vehicle made a sudden ‘unsafe’ turn without banking into the bike lane twice. To further expand on this, he added,

This kind of turn is known to be one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality. It’s also an unsafe practice that we address in all of the safety curriculum we offer to professional drivers.

I told staff from Uber’s policy and engineering teams about the safety hazards of their autonomous vehicle technology. They told me they would work on it.

The company, as aforementioned, is aware of this issue and has currently instructed the human drivers to take control of the vehicle while taking a right turn through the bike lane. Uber has already violated the instruction to stop conducting its self-driving tests in California and is now working towards the development of a fix for the ‘right hook’ issue. But it is also facing immense criticism for launching the service without fixing the issue which had been brought to light by the biking committee member.

The self-driving tests are now progressing at a steady pace and Uber is hoping not to come across any more hurdles in the process.