Uber self-driving cars found to pose risk to cyclists

Trial of Uber self-driving cars in California, USA, highlights shortcomings in how the cars detect cyclists and how they navigate cycle lanes

A trial in California of Uber self-driving cars has found that they pose a serious risk to cyclists.

The controversial trial of the driverless vehicles in San Francisco found that the cars drove across cycle lanes positioned at the side of the carriageway, rather than the car filtering in to make a turn.

This meant that the cars crossed the cycle lane and into the sideroad, posing a risk to any cyclist in the cycle lane.

Taxi firm Uber has admitted that there is a problem, and they are working to find a solution, reports the Guardian.

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Last week, the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition published an article highlighting the issue of Uber self-driving vehicles turning across bike lanes after its member Brian Wiedenmeier witnessed it first hand.

"I told staff from Uber’s policy and engineering teams about the safety hazards of their autonomous vehicle technology," wrote Wiedenmeier. "They told me they would work on it. Then, two days later, they unleashed that technology on San Francisco’s streets. Your streets."

A graphic created by SFBC shows how the Uber vehicles cross a bike lane.

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition graphic showing how Uber self-driving vehicles do not navigate bike lanes properly

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition graphic showing how Uber self-driving vehicles do not navigate bike lanes properly
(Image credit: San Francisco Bicycle Coalition)

SFBC are running a petition to gather support in an attempt to prevent the release of autonomous vehicles onto public roads without regulation or safety checks.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles attempted to prevent the trial of Uber's Volvo XC90 self-driving vehicles last week, but this was disputed by Uber, who went ahead with the trial.

"It’s hard to understand why the DMV would seek to require self-driving Ubers to get permits when it accepts that Tesla’s autopilot technology does not need them," said Uber's Anthony Levandowski. "We asked for clarification as to specifically what is different about our tech from the DMV, but have not received it."

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Nigel Wynn
Former Associate Editor

Nigel Wynn worked as associate editor on CyclingWeekly.com, he worked almost single-handedly on the Cycling Weekly website in its early days. His passion for cycling, his writing and his creativity, as well as his hard work and dedication, were the original driving force behind the website’s success. Without him, CyclingWeekly.com would certainly not exist on the size and scale that it enjoys today. Nigel sadly passed away, following a brave battle with a cancer-related illness, in 2018. He was a highly valued colleague, and more importantly, n exceptional person to work with - his presence is sorely missed.