Uber’s Self-Driving Car is a Bust

Uber’s vaunted self-driving car program has not yet produced any meaningful results. Documents obtained by Recode indicate that the autonomous vehicles are performing as hoped.

The ride sharing company has made little real progress towards putting a true autonomous automobile on the road, Recode concluded. Some of the biggest problems with Uber’s autonomous car initiative include:

  • Human drivers had to take over from the computer for every mile that the vehicles drove. That indicates the algorithms are not capable of performing many driving tasks.

 

  • Uber’s cars only drove 5,000 miles in January.

 

  • Uber only had 20 autonomous cars on the road in Pittsburgh in January.

 

  • In March Uber vehicles drove just .8 miles before the driver had to take over.

 

  • Uber had a total of 42 autonomous cars.in March

 

  • The number of near accidents involving the self-driving cars increased from around 50 in February to nearly 200 in March a Recode Chart indicates.

 

  • The number of times drivers had to take over from the computer actually increased between January and February 2017. In January drivers only had to take over every 125 miles, in February they had to take over every 50 miles.

 

  • Ubers algorithms had difficulty learning new routes and adapting to new environments.

 

All this indicates that Uber might be lagging far behind competitors such as Ford (NYSE: F) and Alphabet’s (NASDAQ: GOOGL) Waymo. These reports indicate why Uber was so anxious to buy the self-driving truck company Otto and seek an alliance with Daimler which has far more experience with autonomous vehicles.

Unfortunately we cannot know how accurate these reports are because they come from so-called leaked documents. Strangely enough the leak itself might be the work of Uber management.

Management might need to prove how little progress they have made on autonomous cars to disprove Alphabet’s lawsuit that alleges Uber stole thousands of documents from Waymo.

It looks as if there might be yet another Uber scandal out there folks: lack of progress on self-driving vehicles. One has to wonder how this will affect Uber’s valuation, much of which is based on claims of technological achievements that might be false or greatly exaggerated.

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