Uber backup drivers fell short in safety functions

CityLab reported widespread shortcomings of the backup drivers who were responsible for supervising Uber’s self-driving cars. One, it is unclear whether humans can do a good job supervising machines that work well most of the time — requiring intense concentration to identify the occasional error, when most of the time, there are tempting distractions. Uber’s 8 to 10-hour shifts, with one 30 minute lunch break, were grueling — and drivers were often assigned to repeat the same driving “loops” which likely made the task particularly dull for drivers. Additional challenges included working entirely alone (without other humans) (after Uber removed a second staff person from each vehicle), and, CityLab reported, the vehicles’ frequent hard braking.

Meanwhile, CityLab spoke with multiple drivers who were dismissed from Uber for safety infractions, including using a phone while a vehicle was in motion — undermining any suggestion that all safety drivers do as instructed.