Uber's autonomous fleet can't make it a mile without a human taking over

Last week, humans took over once every 0.8 miles on average.

Uber's autonomous test fleet isn't running as smoothly as the ridesharing company may have hoped. According to a report obtained by Recode, Uber's vehicles traveled 20,354 miles last week and, on average, have been taken over by a human driver slightly more than once per mile. While the facts aren't as clear cut as that statement may make it seem, it's obvious that the company has a long way to go before it can permanently replace its human hosts.

The cars are being tested in Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California and still have a real human driver behind the wheel ready to take over. Though the number of miles driven each week is increasing, the number of driver interventions isn't improving much. According to Recode, this is only the second week since December that the cars have topped 20,000 miles.

Uber uses a few metrics to measure progress. First, the average number of miles driven before human intervention. Second, the average number of miles between critical interventions (where damage to person or property would exceed $5,000). Finally, the average number of miles between bad experiences (jerky motions, hard braking, etc.) During the week of March 8th, 43 autonomous vehicles were in use. On average, a human had to take control every 0.8 miles. Not a great figure. Even worse, it's down from January's 0.9 miles, though the number of "critical interventions" has decreased.

It's not a simple as saying Uber is making no progress. The more vehicles it introduces, the more chances for error. Additionally, new vehicles have to learn new routes, so there will be some teething issues while the cars settle in. Lane markings, road signs, and other objects must all be accounted for. One route in Arizona has proven so troublesome that for the moment Uber isn't taking passengers that way.

In other news, Uber's legal battle with Google is starting to ramp up. The crux of the case relates to allegations that several engineers stole autonomous vehicle data from Google before quitting and moving to Uber. Tech Crunch reports that two days were spent arguing over whether the attorneys should be able to view the allegedly stolen data. This case will have major repercussions for Uber's autonomous future, so look for more news as things develop.

Update: Uber wouldn't give us a comment on the record.

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