Day: January 22, 2017

Uber’s Policy with Self-Driving Cars

Uber launched its self-driving vehicles in San Francisco recently, California, but it wasn’t without issues and concerns. The vehicles launched in California about two weeks ago. When they first came onto the scene, the first one ran a red light. Considering these cars are supposed to be safer, it was a bit of an issue, to say the least. Related auto industry experts chiming in on this post.

Issues in California

They faced many issues in California and were facing legal action The cars were originally given registrations, but they didn’t want to fork over the $150 permits because Uber stated that their cars aren’t that sophisticated yet that they need to be considered fully autonomous. Well, that landed them in the fire pit, and California revoked the registrations for all 16 of their vehicles, which means if they were on the road, police could pull them over and tow them away. Yes, a human driver needs to be in the car at all times but still, they are testing them to be fully autonomous with no one at the wheel, and that was the issue. They could have just satisfied their requirements and gone along with the governing bodies in California, but they decided not to do that. California is their hometown, where Uber first started, but their decision to not seek and follow through with government regulations this time (like they have done in the past) is costing them big time.

Other Issues

Some also say that the red light is not the only issue They also apparently have issues with bike lanes and turning ahead of people in those lanes, which as a human driver we know to look out for. But there are other things that the self-driving cars have issues with other than bike lanes. That could be the inclement weather because then the car cannot detect the lines on the ground for lane markings. They have issues with bridges because there aren’t enough environmental cues around them to determine where it is, and when things change with regards to landmarks (which includes leaves having and not having leaves), the car gets confused as to where it is. These are just a few of the issues that a self-driving car has to endure. The more obvious issue is the repair service for these cars. If they break on the road, there won’t be a shop that you can just tow them to, leaving the passengers stranded.

Other Places Where They Operate

While California is proving to be an issue for them due to their regulations, they have already been operating in other states. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania was the first place to have them, and they have been there for several months at this point.  Their cars are in PA for research, to help the cars learn how to drive on the roads, how to react to passengers, and how other cars on the roads are moving. That is probably the most important step to an autonomous vehicle, to be able to anticipate what is going on around them. They started in PA for a reason, for the talent at Carnegie Mellon, and hopefully this will lead them to a profitable future. Once their ability to drive in CA was taken away from them, they went to Arizona, where they were apparently welcomed very acceptant. They were welcome via a tweet, which is appropriate considering they are based on a mobile app as well.

The Future

The cars themselves still need to be occupied by a human driver and engineer to help it learn what it is supposed to do as well as see the downfalls and drawbacks that might be encountered. Every car company is trying to get in on the autonomous car idea, and that’s awesome, but technology is limited at this point. However, once the times and minds behind these cars are improved, I see a future of self-driving cars on the roads. Maybe that will lead to fewer accidents when all of them are the same way because a robot can anticipate and read another robot. But what about those of us who like to drive, how will it affect us?  Will you ever truly want to give up control on the road for something else to drive for you?