Leaked documents suggest that Uber Technologies Inc.’s self-driving cars cannot go over a mile, on average, without human intervention. The files reveal that the company’s month-over-month metrics are not exactly a steady line of progress. California is preparing for autonomous vehicles to go solo however, fresh reports from the ride-hailing company’s testing suggest proceeding with caution.
The San Francisco eTaxi giant’s internal files detail the firm’s progress toward realizing its goal of a fleet of automobiles entirely free of human drivers, notes Tech Crunch. Uber’s 43 autonomous vehicles drove a total of 20,355 miles during the week ending on March 8, which is four times the number of miles the company’s first 20 self-driving vehicles drove early this year. However, the safety drivers overseeing the vehicles allegedly had to seize control of the self-driving cars on average once every mile.
Mashable notes that this is not the first suggestion of technical difficulty to come out of the San Francisco ride-hailing firm’s controversial self-driving vehicle program. When it was first introduced in 2016, a Uber car was filmed running a red light. The company also temporarily shut down the testing program in San Francisco after a run-in with California’s DMV.
The idea of never touching the wheel is so inviting that companies like the eTaxi giant, Google’s Waymo, and Tesla are all racing to build self-driving cars as fast as they can. In the rush, we should however, not forget that these vehicles are not yet ready to handle complex road conditions.
The ride-hailing firm’s self-driving vehicles are not driving as smoothly as the firm hoped they would. Uber’s leaked internal documents reveal that human drivers had to take over from the autonomous driving system every mile for one reason or another. The reports suggest that the vehicles are still far from being safe enough to be deployed without human drivers.
Recode reports that the obtained documents provide a first look at the progress of Uber’s autonomous vehicles in Arizona, Pennsylvania, and California. It is still early in the high-flying transportation firm’s testing. Google’s self-driving car division Waymo has been working on its own self-driving technology since 2009. While Big G’s autonomous system has immensely improved each year, it still encounters a handful of situations when the human driver has to take over for the system.
Uber’s autonomous cars had more help from their human drivers than the company would have liked. The company clearly has a long way to go before its self-driving vehicles can safely drive people around. It should be noted that improving its autonomous system will not be the only thing that would hold back the San Francisco ridesharing firm’s self-driving cars. Google’s Waymo has accused it of stealing self-driving technology, and this is just one of the many troubles the company is currently facing.
By Anila Maring
Photo Courtesy Uber