Uber Technologies admitted Monday that its self-driving cars have problems crossing bike lanes, and said it is working to fix the issue that could have deadly implications for cyclists.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition had warned users that self-driving Uber vehicles take unsafe “right-hook-style" turns through bike lanes rather than first merging with the bike lane, yielding to traffic already in the lane, before taking a turn from the curb, as required by California rules.
In the ride he took through the streets of SoMa, “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,” wrote Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the coalition, in a post. Wiedenmeier said he rode in one of the vehicles before they were launched on the streets of San Francisco.
“I can tell you firsthand: Those vehicles are not yet ready for our streets,” he wrote. “Launching autonomous vehicle technology before it’s regulated and safe for our streets is unacceptable.”
The ride-hailing company started testing its autonomous cars in San Francisco last week, following similar tests in Pittsburgh since September. But the company has run into controversies, including a dispute with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and other officials over whether it requires a permit to test the vehicles.
“We can confirm that, as the Coalition's note states, our vehicle operators ‘have been instructed to disengage from self-driving mode when approaching right turns on a street with a bike lane and that engineers are continuing to work on the problem,’” a spokeswoman from Uber wrote in an email.