Uber has reportedly acknowledged that there is a "problem" with its autonomous cars, raising concerns about the safety of having Uber self-driving cars on roads. The problem pertains to navigation issues the autonomous cars face when crossing bike lanes, which could have potentially deadly consequences for cyclists.
Uber's acknowledgment coincides with the firm reporting an over $800m (£645m, €768m) loss in the third quarter. Uber's Q3 loss does not include its Chinese operation which the firm decided to exit earlier in the year.
Uber's self-driving car issues come days after it pushed back against California regulators' demands to stop the launch of its trials on San Francisco roads. Uber spokeswoman Chelsea Kohler told the Guardian that "engineers are continuing to work on the problem". She also said that the company has instructed drivers of autonomous vehicles to take control when approaching turns on a street with a bike lane.
The firm's pilot tests in San Francisco, which began last week, have been off to a shaky start with several of its autonomous vehicles having been spotted breezing through red lights and engaged in a range of other traffic violations.
The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has issued a warning about Uber's self-driving cars. A spokesperson for the coalition said: "The fact that they know there's a dangerous flaw in the technology and persisted in a surprise launch, shows a reckless disregard for the safety of people in our streets."
Self-driving car failures may escalate losses
Uber is believed to have lost around $2bn in 2015 and is on track to report a loss of an estimated $3bn in 2016, according to a report by Bloomberg. The firm previously claimed that one of the key reasons for its losses was the high subsidies it pays out to drivers. The firm's increased focus on self-driving cars is indicative of an anticipated, pre-emptive strike, in efforts to stay ahead of losses.
However, Uber's disclosures about programming issues with self-driving cars, coupled with safety concerns raised by activists and regulators, may lead to the firm possibly facing additional challenges and likely financial setbacks.
Uber's revenue reportedly continues to rise, despite shutting down operations in China. According to an unnamed source, Uber generated around $3.76bn in net revenue in the first nine months of 2016 and is expected to surpass $5.5bn by the end of the year.