You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Uber self-driving cars 'bullied' by drivers and pedestrians

The Telegraph logo The Telegraph 13/06/2019 Olivia Rudgard

This undated product image provided by Volvo Cars shows the Volvo XC90 SUV. Uber is teaming with Volvo Cars to launch its newest self-driving vehicle. The ride-hailing company said Wednesday, June 12, 2019, that it can easily install its self-driving system in the Volvo XC90 SUV. (Volvo Cars via AP) © Getty This undated product image provided by Volvo Cars shows the Volvo XC90 SUV. Uber is teaming with Volvo Cars to launch its newest self-driving vehicle. The ride-hailing company said Wednesday, June 12, 2019, that it can easily install its self-driving system in the Volvo XC90 SUV. (Volvo Cars via AP) Uber's self-driving cars are being "bullied" by people who want to "test their boundaries", the company has said. 

Eric Meyhofer, head of the company's Advanced Technologies Group, said its cameras have captured pedestrians and drivers treating the cars with hostility. The vehicles are equipped with sensors and currently being tested with humans supervising from the driving seat. 

"We’ve seen people bully these cars. They feel like they can be more aggressive because we won’t take a position on it, or we’ll allow it," he told journalists at Uber's Elevate conference in Washington DC.

The behaviours, which included pedestrians gesturing or saying things, people challenging the cars to stop, and drivers coming up close behind them, was "mean-spirited", he said, adding that drivers also tended not to give the cars the right of way at four-way junctions. 

This undated product image provided by Volvo Cars shows the Volvo XC90 SUV. Uber is teaming with Volvo Cars to launch its newest self-driving vehicle. The ride-hailing company said Wednesday, June 12, 2019, that it can easily install its self-driving system in the Volvo XC90 SUV. (Volvo Cars via AP) © Getty This undated product image provided by Volvo Cars shows the Volvo XC90 SUV. Uber is teaming with Volvo Cars to launch its newest self-driving vehicle. The ride-hailing company said Wednesday, June 12, 2019, that it can easily install its self-driving system in the Volvo XC90 SUV. (Volvo Cars via AP) "You’re on video but still people do bully them and that’s a fascinating thing to see where people are testing the boundaries of what they can do to self-driving," he added.

Asked whether people forgot about manners and etiquette when interacting with self-driving cars, he said: "I think people are trying to figure it out."

Uber, best-known as a ride sharing company, plans to add autonomous vehicles to its fleet, which it says will reduce costs because it will no longer have to rely on human drivers. It is testing its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

It recently began operating them again after a fatal crash last year which killed a pedestrian and led to the company removing the cars from the roads for nine months. 

An Uber self-driving Volvo is on exhibit at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC June 12, 2019. - Uber unveiled its newest self-driving vehicle produced by Volvo Cars. The Volvo XC90 prototype will be "capable of fully driving itself," according to an Uber statement, with  sensors atop and built into the vehicle to allow it to operate and maneuver in an urban environment. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP)        (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images) © Getty An Uber self-driving Volvo is on exhibit at the Uber Elevate Summit 2019 in Washington, DC June 12, 2019. - Uber unveiled its newest self-driving vehicle produced by Volvo Cars. The Volvo XC90 prototype will be "capable of fully driving itself," according to an Uber statement, with sensors atop and built into the vehicle to allow it to operate and maneuver in an urban environment. (Photo by EVA HAMBACH / AFP) (Photo credit should read EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images) Last year reports suggested that Google's self-driving spinoff Waymo was suffering aggression from locals where it operates in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Self-driving cars have provoked frustration in drivers who say they tend to be more cautious and take longer to carry out simple manoeuvres, holding up traffic. 

Experts have suggested that this could be because they are regarded as service robots, which have a low status and are vulnerable to abuse. 

Uber also unveiled a new Volvo autonomous vehicle at the event, and said it was working towards using a car without a steering wheel or pedals, though this was not possible under current rules.

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.

Gallery: 15 ways self-driving cars could change your life [Motoring Research]

AdChoices
AdChoices

More from The Telegraph

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon