Uber has been testing out a fleet of self-driving cars with passengers inside, even though it's only being done in Pittsburgh.
At one point during the testing, there was a catch: if anyone decided to ride in one of the self-driving Uber cars, they needed to sign a waiver. Since the autonomous vehicles have been in an experimental phase, one can understand why Uber would want customers to sign a piece of contract before they entered.
The document, acquired by The Guardian, stated that anyone who decides to participate in this program, will not be able to sue Uber should any problems, such as property damage, injury and even death, occur.
This essentially meant that if the self-driving Uber car met an accident and the passenger was either injured or killed, then no one from Uber would be held liable. Keep in mind: there are no strict laws pertaining to self-driving cars — only guidelines at this point — so Uber could have gotten away with any mishap.
"Risks associated with riding in an AV may include, without limitation, those caused by equipment failure, development vehicle operators or other safety drivers, actions of other motorists, weather, temperature, road conditions, negligence or human error," the contract states.
Uber no longer requires that a waiver be signed since the AVs are insured up to $5 million per incident.
Now, as the experiments push through where little to no human intervention is required by default, the big question is whether we could be witnessing the end of human drivers. On the one hand, Uber would want to escape being held accountable for any mishaps, even those resulting from machine failure. On the other, Uber sees the initiative would likely cut down the number of human drivers hired by the company.
Another important note passengers should take into consideration before deciding to take a ride in a self-driving Uber car is surveillance. Cameras have been installed in the said vehicles because Uber aims to record on video how passengers react to this new experience.
At the moment, the self-driving cars are limited to a downtown section of Pittsburgh and can only be hailed between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. local time. Furthermore, the passenger's destination must be within the 12-square mile area of Pittsburgh.
The plan to have a fleet of self-driving cars on public streets may be a good business move by Uber because it wants to stay ahead of the competition both in the ridehailing sector and the entire auto industry. Companies like Google and Tesla are ahead of Uber in the self-driving car field, so it makes sense for Uber to push this out to the public as soon as possible.