SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Though Uber insists that its paid passenger carrying, self-driving cars are not pilotless, it seems they may not see bicycles so well.
So far this year, San Francisco's inbound Market Street bike count sign says almost 800,000 bicycles have passed it; well over 2,000 a day. Now comes word that Uber's pilotless cars, as they make turns, have trouble sensing bicycles and may cross into their path.
Uber has always said that the back up, is an Uber employee at the controls to take over if needed. Cyclists are not impressed.
"You probably saw the video of one of these autonomous vehicles, self-drive vehicles running a red light south of Market. Uber told us that when that occurred, it was one of the safety drivers behind the wheel. So, I'm not reassured by that," said Brian Wiedenmeier of the SF Bicycle Coalition.
"I would say that if there's still glitches there, it's a dangerous thing, a dangerous thing for sure," said bicyclist Michael Castillo.
Uber sent us a statement regarding the bicycle safety issue: "We're aware of this and we're working to address it. All our vehicles operators have been instructed to take over our vehicles when they're making these turns."
"I think our real objection is the manner in which Uber launched this service; without collecting more data, without undergoing more testing," said Wiedenmeier.
Uber argues, in any case, cars with safety monitors in the drivers seat are not truly autonomous, requiring no permit.
Nonetheless, Uber's self-driving cars remain out there operating out of this unmarked, non-descript facility on a public street south of Market The building has signs posted, warning people to not block, sit in front of, or sleep in door or garage ways.
Not only did Uber not get all the permissions the state says it needs in order to drive its pilotless cars on the streets, apparently it either got permission or took it upon itself to block an entire public sidewalk.
Lined up, almost the entire city block by their facility, barricades are chained together, essentially forcing pedestrians to walk on the street.
Uber did not get back to KTVU about the barricade wall on the public sidewalk.
The safety issue remains unresolved.
"Our message to Uber is really: 'let's take a step back and study how these vehicles work on our streets before unleashing them and opening them up for public use,'" said Wiedenmeier.
We have confirmed that Uber will sit down with the DMV and state Attorney General Wednesday afternoon.
Late this afternoon, SF Public Works Dept. ordered the barricades taken off the sidewalk by Wednesday morning.