Uber’s self-driving cars are making ‘dangerous’ turns across bike lanes

Uber self-driving Volvo XC90
San Francisco cyclists might want to watch themselves if a self-driving Uber is in the vicinity.

According to the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, the autonomous cars have been seen performing dangerous maneuvers across bike lanes that could result in an accident.

An Uber spokesperson this week confirmed to the Guardian that “engineers are continuing to work on the problem,” adding that on-board technicians have been told to take control of the vehicle when approaching a right turn on a road with a bike lane.

Whether that’s enough to calm the nerves of cyclists in the city remains to be seen, though Brian Wiedenmeier, executive chairman of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, is clearly still concerned.

In a recent blog post, Wiedenmeier said he took a ride in one of Uber’s test vehicles in a demonstration of the car’s technology shortly before its San Francisco launch. He said that on two occasions the car “took an unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane.” He added that such a turn, which he described as “dangerous and illegal,”  is known to be “one of the primary causes of collisions between cars and people who bike resulting in serious injury or fatality.”

Wiedenmeier continued: “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. Your streets … Launching autonomous vehicle technology before it’s regulated and safe for our streets is unacceptable.”

Of course, many San Francisco road users may well be wondering why Uber is continuing to test its autonomous cars on streets there at all. Why? Because California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) insists the ride-hailing company needs a permit to do so. But Uber disagrees.

When the DMV pointed out last week that it needed special permission, Uber said this wasn’t the case because an on-board technician was constantly monitoring the car’s behavior, ready to intervene if necessary.

The DMV is now threatening legal action, while Mayor Ed Lee is calling on the ride-hailing company to “stop the unpermitted and unlawful testing of autonomous vehicles.”

But Uber is standing by its belief that a permit isn’t required for testing so long as it has a technician behind the wheel at all times.

“We respectfully disagree with the California DMV’s legal interpretation of today’s automation regulations,” Uber’s Anthony Levandowski said last Friday.

The issue appears \ far from resolved, with Uber set to continue testing its Volvo XC90s in the face of DMV protests.


Has Columbus, Ohio raised its IQ yet? A progress report from the mayor

Two years ago, the city of Columbus in Ohio received $40 million to pursue smart city initiatives. So, what’s happened since then? We spoke with its mayor, Andrew Ginther, to discuss progress and what’s ahead.

Trash at 'Super Smash Bros. Ultimate'? Use this guide to train up and get good

Super Smash Bros. Ultimate is the biggest game in the entire series, and it can be overwhelming for newcomers not used to the universe-colliding fighting game. Here's what you need to know when you're starting.

5G’s arrival is transforming tech. Here’s everything you need to know to keep up

It has been years in the making, but 5G is finally becoming a reality. While 5G coverage is still extremely limited, expect to see it expand in 2019. Not sure what 5G even is? Here's everything you need to know.
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ ‘Bumblebee,’ ‘Alita,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's the first trailer for Avengers: Endgame, as well as new trailers for Alita: Battle Angel and Bumblebee.

2020 Toyota Supra caught hiding in a trailer without a shred of camouflage

Toyota's plan to once again lure enthusiasts into showrooms involves bringing back the Supra, one of its most emblematic nameplates. Here's what we know so far about the upcoming coupe, which Toyota is developing jointly with BMW.

NYC mandates minimum wage for Uber, Lyft, other app-based rideshare drivers

New York City's Taxi and Limousine Commission approved a rule that drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft must be paid at least minimum wage, even though they are independent contractors. The new pay rate includes operating costs.

Driving a prototype 2020 Passat at Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground

Volkswagen’s Arizona Proving Ground is where new cars are tested to the breaking point, including the 2020 Passat midsize sedan. Ride along as the new Passat completes testing ahead of its 2019 launch.

LM Industries’ autonomous shuttles head to Phoenix, Sacramento campuses

LM Industries will deploy Olli low-speed autonomous shuttles at school campuses in Arizona and California as part of its ongoing "fleet challenge," which asks local groups to propose uses for autonomous vehicles.

Bosch’s CES-bound shuttle concept takes us on a trip to a not-too-distant future

Bosch envisions a future in which driverless shuttles occupy their own market segment. The German firm won't build the shuttles, but it wants to provide everything else, ranging from the drive system to the apps used to hail them.
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Product Review

Boring takes a back seat as 2019 Corolla Hatchback mixes fun with practicality

We drive the 2019 Toyota Corolla Hatchback, the latest hatchback to bear the Corolla name. As the best-selling nameplate in automotive history, Toyota has high expectations to meet. This model mostly lives up to the legacy.

Hertz speeds up car rentals with biometric scan technology

Biometric security technology that uses face, fingerprint, and voice recognition is gaining traction, with Hertz emerging as the latest company to incorporate it into its daily operations.
Product Review

Inside Maserati's Levante SUV beats the heart of a Ferrari

Maserati’s luxury SUV gets a shot in the arm by way of Ferrari-derived V8 power, but is it enough to go toe-to-toe with the established players in the high performance sport-utility segment? Let’s find out.

McLaren puts the pedal to the metal in special-edition OnePlus 6T

The OnePlus 6T is yet another flagship killer smartphone, bringing powerful specifications to a much lower price than the competition. Now, OnePlus has teamed up with McLaren for the OnePlus 6T McLaren Edition.