Uber's self-driving cars are running into problems – literally


Uber’s recently launched self-driving car pilot program is off to a bumpy ride, according to a new report.

Witnesses speaking with Quartz revealed that Uber’s self-driving Ford Fusions have been getting into accidents and disobeying traffic signs in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the ride-sharing service is currently testing its cars.

One Uber driver, Nathan Stachelek, reported seeing a self-driving car turn down a one way street before its operator had to take over and turn the car around. Stachelek couldn’t tell whether the human driver or the autonomous car made the error from where he was positioned, but he posted a video of the incident to Facebook

Uber self driving Ford Fusion

Another Uber driver witnessed another one of the self-driving Ford Fusions pulled over on the side of the road, apparently after getting into an accident.

Uber has confirmed only one incident where a car tapped the fender of one of its self-driving Fords, but did not speak about other reported incidents. We’ve asked Uber for comment on the reports, and will update this article if we hear anything back.

Long road ahead

It’s still early days for self-driving cars, but what governments and companies like Uber agree on is that they’re inevitable. The United States Department of Transportation (DOT) recently released its first guidelines about self-driving cars, which the agency hopes will accelerate development and deployment of autonomous cars to combat traffic deaths.

Uber’s self-driving car pilot program is currently taking place in Pittsburgh because of a regulatory loophole that has yet to enact autonomous vehicle legislation, according to Quartz. However, other states like California are quickly adopting self-driving car legislation, even allowing testing to be done without human drivers behind the wheel.

Google self driving car crash
Photo credit: Ron van Zuylen

Uber isn’t the only company facing challenges with its self-driving cars. Less than two weeks ago, Google’s self-driving Lexus SUV got into an accident. However, the accident was due to human error and was not the fault of Google’s self-driving car. The truck driver ran a red light and T-boned the Google SUV, causing it to deploy its airbags.

Even Tesla’s experimental Auto Pilot feature came under fire after it a Model S driver was killed in an accident where the semi-autonomous driving feature was in use.

There are still many kinks to be worked out with self-driving vehicles, and companies are certainly on the case to do so as soon as possible.

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