Cyclists Beware: Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Have A Deadly Bike Lane Blindspot

Cyclists Beware! If you are on the roads of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania or San Francisco, California, watch out for Uber’s self-driving cars. The corporation has admitted that its vehicles have a serious bike lane blindspot.

When in self-driving mode, Uber’s vehicle tend to make “unsafe right-hook-style turn through a bike lane”. The blind spot is the self-driving car’s number one cause of collision. Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler stated that “engineers are continuing to work on the problem”. For now, the company is advising drivers to take control of the vehicle when approaching right turns on a street with a bike lane.

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This admission comes on the heels of the state of California’s ban on Uber self-driving vehicles. Brian G. Soublet, deputy director of California’s Department of Motor Vehicles, stated, “It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit. Any action by Uber to continue the operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology on public streets in California must cease until Uber complies.”

San Francisco Bicycle Coalition Chris Cassidy noted that his group had warned Uber about its deadly blind spot. Uber officials told the coalition that it was working on the issue, but failed to mention that it would nevertheless be putting vehicles on the road within a few days.

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Bike lanes present an interesting problem for driverless cars. It can be difficult to predict a cyclist’s behavior because they often move suddenly and at high speeds. Some argue, however, that an imperfect self-driving vehicle is still safer than a driver-controlled car.

Uber’s driverless cars debuted this past September in Pittsburgh. The state has yet to pass any laws concerning self-driving cars or decide upon a procedure in case the vehicle should crash. Uber is also not required to divulge any data from its vehicles. Uber did, however, work closely with state of Pennsylvania regulators before beginning the tests. California, it turns out, is a different case.