For Uber, it’s an issue of principle. For the people of San Francisco, it’s an issue of safety. Uber recently launched their autonomous vehicles in the city and found quite a dangerous flaw in their system.
Share the road
The cars have been crossing bike lanes at the last minute to make a right turn, which is a major collision causing violation. Though Uber moved forward without the permission of the state, they felt it was a necessary step to take to test out their self-driving vehicles.
However, not everyone shares their enthusiasm to get this underway.
After the first day, locals caught the autonomous Uber cars breaking at least four out of the top five causes of collision.
These include: running through red lights and stop signs, unsafe turns, and failing to yield to pedestrians. The last one is a major issue as these cars roll out in densely populated areas like San Francisco.
“Reckless disregard for safety”
“The fact that they know there’s a dangerous flaw in the technology and persisted […] shows reckless disregard for safety,” shares Chris Cassidy of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition.
A spokeswoman from Uber assures the public that Uber engineers are working to fix the problem, but the generalized statement doesn’t quite quell the fears of bicyclists and pedestrians. Plus, Uber broke the rules once, so will they do it again?
Part of our future
Self-driving cars have been a hot button issue in the news lately, from this Uber launch to the debate over Tesla’s “autopilot” feature. Whether you support them are not, it looks like autonomous vehicles will be a part of our future.
However, the only way to expand this booming technology is for the private and public sectors to work together, and test them out in the real world.
Though leaving the driving to your car seems dangerous, self-driving cars are predicted to be a safer alternative to people driving. It is estimated that 93 percent of accidents are caused by human error. Even so, “driverless” cars all include a feature where the driver can take over in case of an emergency. In addition, autonomous cars can improve other issues, such as reduced road rage and traffic congestion.
However just like in the case of Uber, many issues need to be resolved before we can fully enjoy the benefits of autonomous vehicles.
Along with the obvious danger to bicyclists, a collaborative effort from both state and federal governments need to work with these companies to set standards. Without everyone on board, no progress will be made. This also includes resolving liability issues between drivers, car companies, and insurance agencies. With any accidents that do occur, someone will need to take responsibility.
Whether you are behind the self-driving bandwagon or not, I think everyone can agree that safety is key. Self-driving cars are in our future, it’s just a question of how long it takes us to get there.