The ridesharing giant's 43 self-driving cars drove a total of 20,354 miles autonomously during the week of March 6, according to internal testing data obtained by Recode.
Uber has been testing semi-autonomous vehicles in a handful of cities for a few months now, but a new report suggests that its tests aren't exactly going smooth. That fleet of cars shuttled passengers on about 930 rides in Pittsburgh last week, and about 150 rides in Phoenix.
To be fair, Uber's leaders themselves have acknowledged the cars aren't almost ready to operate on their own - after all, that was the company's main argument as to why it shouldn't have to apply for a state permit to test the cars in California.
Uber's self-driving vehicle fleet is comprised of 43 operating automobiles. Recode reports that during the week ending March 8, Uber's self-driving cars traveled, on average, just 0.8 miles on their own before a human had to take over, in a process known as "disengagement". As of last week, that figure was 196 miles between incidents, up from 50 miles in January-getting better, but still clearly problematic. There is no distinction between the reasons that the drivers needed to take over, as this simply covers driver intervention for any reason at all.
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Uber also measures the number of so-called critical interventions, which are the cases when the driver had to take over to prevent accidents. But progress does not seem to be steady, even though the previous week saw critical interventions every 114 miles.
At the same time, the fleet still has "bad experiences", which characterize events like jerky driving, hard braking, or whatever else someone would consider uncomfortable driving. The miles between takeovers, total autonomous miles driven, miles between things like hard braking that make passengers uncomfortable, and miles between "critical interventions", among other values, all count toward the total measure of progress for Uber's burgeoning self-driving auto business.
We must note that the described events can happen in any self-driving vehicle fleet, and they are particularly common in the early phases of testing for these automobiles. However, documents that indicate the situation have been leaked online.
Travis Kalanick has described self-driving technology as "existential" to Uber's future as a company.