Uber is fixing a flaw in its self-driving cars that could put cyclists in danger

caption
An Uber self-driving car climbs a hill in San Francisco.
source
Uber

Uber is addressing a flaw that’s causing its self-driving cars to make unsafe turns through bike lanes.

Uber is allowing users to hail a self-driving car in San Francisco as part of a pilot program launched last week. But the pilot has not had a smooth start. On the first day of the launch, a self-driving Uber was caught on camera running a red light, which Uber said was due to “human error.”

The California DMV is also threatening legal action against Uber for running the pilot program without first obtaining an autonomous vehicles license. Uber’s vice president of advanced technologies, Anthony Levandowski, said the program will continue to run as the cars do not meet the definition of autonomous vehicles.

Now Uber engineers are working to address a flaw that’s causing Uber cars to make sharp turns through a bike lane, jeopardizing cyclist safety, The Guardian first reported.

Brian Wiedenmeier, executive director of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, wrote in a Dec. 15 blog post that he saw Uber’s self-driving cars take “an unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane” on two separate occassions.

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

Wiedenmeier said Uber’s team told him on December 14 that engineers are working on the problem and that the safety drivers have been instructed to disengage the car’s autonomous mode and handle turns involving bike lanes. Uber has a safety driver and engineer sitting upfront to monitor the self-driving cars.

“We take safety very seriously. We’re aware of this and we’re working to address it,” an Uber spokesperson told Business Insider. “All our vehicles’ operators have been instructed to take over our vehicles when they’re making these turns.”