Another Deadly Risk With Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

Uber admits its self-driving cars barge illegally into bicycle lanes after S.F. Bike Coalition points out the safety flaw.

Aleah Fajardo / S.F. Examiner

Add to your airing of holiday grievances with Uber’s self-driving cars another serious safety concern that could prove deadly for San Francisco cyclists. As the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition correctly points out, the self-driving Ubers are programmed dangerously to dangerously barge into bike lines instead of safely merging when they make right-hand turns.

Uber admitted the safety flaw on Monday, telling The Guardian that “engineers are continuing to work on the problem.” But those self-driving cars remain on the streets of San Francisco, despite multiple recorded incidents of their running red lights and blocking intersections.

The S.F. Bicycle Coalition points out that Uber’s self-driving vehicles also swerve dangerously into bike lanes when making right-hand turns.

The coalition’s executive director Brian Wiedenmeier, who has ridden in one of these vehicles, writes in a blog post that “the autonomous vehicle in ‘self-driving’ mode as well as the one in front of it took an unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane. Twice.”

The coalition has an online petition urging the California DMV to pass stricter regulations on the public testing of self-driving cars.

Mayor Ed Lee has demanded that Uber get permits for self-driving cars, which the company has pointedly declined to do. Uber argues that the cars are not technically “self-driving” because a human driver is in the driver’s seat monitoring the car.

The S.F. Examiner reported Tuesday that attorneys from Uber and the California Department of Motor Vehicles were meeting today amid mounting safety complaints about the ride-share company’s self-driving cars.  

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