Historically, Uber’s autonomous cars had two staff members onboard: One to take over driving in case of problems, and another to monitor onboard systems to track performance and label data. But Uber later moved to a single operator. Reviewing 100 pages of internal company documents, the New York Times reported that some employees expressed safety concerns about the change. Among other concerns, they noted that solo work would make it harder to remain alert during monotonous driving.
Broadly, problems seemed to have unfolded as internal critics worried. One Uber autonomous car safety driver was fired after being seen asleep at the wheel. When an Uber vehicle struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona, early review of the onboard video shows the staff person looking down or sideways, perhaps at a phone or onboard systems, but not at the road.