The Morning Badger (4/4/17): Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Are the Friggin’ Worst


Maybe Don’t Get into a Self-Driving Uber?

For the last few years, California permitted several companies to test their self-driving cars on roads where real, live people normally drive. Google’s Waymo division and Uber are two of the most popular companies to send out entire fleets of automated vehicles to mingle with unsuspecting drivers. (Both companies are also suing each other, but that’s another story.)

Now, California has statistics on just how well these self-driving cars performed. Waymo vehicle operators (yes, there are still people in the cars) had to course correct and manually steer their cars once every 5,128 miles. This is not bad, considering how Waymo automated cars drove over 500,000 miles in the last twelve months.

Yet Uber’s self-driving cars had to be meddled with at least once for every mile driven. When Waymo operators only had to force drivers to take the wheel (called a “disengagement”) once every 5,128 miles, Uber operators had to take the wheel 5,128 times during the same distance. This is why California banned Uber from testing after 20,354 miles driven.

What does this mean for Uber’s future? Uber needs self-driving cars to become profitable in the future. This will let them pay drivers less (or not at all), cut down on overhead, and cut down on overall spending. This is working out pretty well for fast food chains, albeit on a much smaller and non-lethal scale. As a side effect, it will put more people out of work.

Uber could also use this as an example of how they didn’t steal trade secrets from Waymo. After all, if their cars are 5,000 times worse than Google’s, there’s no way they’re based on the same code…right?

Pour One Out for hhgregg

hhgregg, the electronics chain with the worst name possible, needs a new owner. The company previously filed for bankruptcy protection and had a new owner lined up to take care of their liquidation and restructuring. That owner has since pulled out after hhgregg’s vendors disapproved of the buyout. The company must find a new buyer by April 8th or risk shutting down and liquidating all of their existing stores. At one point, the company had hundreds of locations — 226 as of last summer, and were as popular in certain American territories as Best Buy.