Uber's autonomous vehicles require frequent human intervention

The New York Times reports that Uber's autonomous vehicles require human intervention every 13 miles, on average, while Google's go 5,600: they were "not living up to expectations months before a self-driving car operated by the company struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz."

When Mr. Khosrowshahi took over as Uber’s chief executive, he had considered shutting down the self-driving car operations, according to two other people familiar with Mr. Khosrowshahi’s thinking.

But he became convinced that it was important to Uber’s long-term prospects. His visit to Phoenix was seen by the Arizona team as a critical opportunity to demonstrate their progress, according to the people familiar with the company’s operations in the Phoenix area. They wanted to take him on a ride without human interventions to demonstrate that the cars could handle so-called edge cases, tricky road situations that are hard to predict.

“With autonomy, the edge cases kill you, so you’ve got to build out for all the edge cases,” Mr. Khosrowshahi said at a conference in November.

They sure do.

It's almost as if Uber's whole autonomous vehicle program was a sham to get money out of the Saudis. Read the rest

"Self-driving" van actually driven by human disguised as car seat

A self-driving van was spotted tooling around in Arlington, Virginia. But when local News4's Adam Tuss spotted the vehicle and approached it, he realized that it was actually being operated by a person disguised as the car seat. The driver ignored Tuss's questions. From News4:

After multiple inquiries by News4, the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute said Monday afternoon that the van and van driver are part of a study they are conducting on driverless cars. The worker was wearing the uniform he was supposed to wear.

"The driver's seating area is configured to make the driver less visible within the vehicle, while still allowing him or her the ability to safely monitor and respond to surroundings," a statement from the institute says.

(via Laughing Squid)

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