Uber says people are bullying its self-driving cars with rude gestures and road rage

Uber self driving carUber

  • Uber's self-driving cars are getting "bullied" by pedestrians and road-users, the company's head of autonomous driving Eric Meyhofer said on Wednesday.
  • Meyhofer said people are "testing the boundaries of what they can do to self-driving" with rude gestures, forcing the cars to stop, and driving up close on their tails.
  • Google's autonomous vehicle unit Waymo has experienced similar issues, with people slashing tires and even pulling guns on safety drivers.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Spare a thought for Uber's driverless cars, which are apparently getting mercilessly bullied by pedestrians and other drivers while out on the road.

That's according to Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber's self-driving car unit Advanced Technologies Group. Speaking at the Elevate conference in Washington DC on Wednesday, he said cameras mounted on the vehicles are capturing the hostility.

"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," said Meyhofer, according to The Daily Telegraph.

"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.

Read more: An engineer at Uber's self-driving-car unit warns that it's more like "a science experiment" than a real car capable of driving itself

According to Meyhofer, the bullying comes from both pedestrians and other road users. It takes the form of rude gestures and utterances, challenging the cars to brake, driving up close behind them, and tending not to give the cars right of way at junctions. Meyhofer called the behaviour "mean-spirited."

WaymoGetty

This isn't the first time human hostility towards autonomous vehicles has been documented. Arizona Republic reported last year that people were slashing the tires of vehicles owned by Waymo, Google's self-driving car venture. Guns were also pulled on safety drivers, it was reported.

Uber's self-driving car programme restarted in December after being suspended for nine months following a fatal crash which killed a pedestrian.

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