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Uber Report Shows Self-Driving Cars Still Need Significant Work

While Uber has made some progress in developing its self-driving cars, there is still significant work to be done, according to a company report obtained by Recode.

The report, which details the progress of Uber’s robot cars in Pennsylvania, Arizona and California, did find that the cars are steadily increasing the number of miles driven autonomously. Last week, for example, the company’s 43 active cars drove 20,354 miles autonomously, marking the second time they have driven more than 20,000 miles in a week. In January, the cars only drove 5,000 miles.

Unfortunately, the numbers on rider experience, which is a combination of how many times drivers have to take over and how smoothly the car drives, aren’t as strong. During the week ending March 8, the 43 active cars only drove an average of about 0.8 miles before the safety driver had to take over, with the reasons for the takeover ranging from navigating unclear lane markings to driving in inclement weather.

This stat doesn’t include “critical” interventions, which would have resulted in a car hitting a person or causing more than $5,000 in property damage. Luckily, the number of miles between these “critical” interventions has recently improved. Last week, the company’s cars drove an average of about 200 miles between those types of incidents.

Recode points out that perfecting autonomous cars is not an easy task. Alphabet’s self-driving company, Waymo, has been working on its own autonomous tech since 2009 and is still seeing a handful of times that a driver needs to take over.

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