A whistleblower who alerted Uber officials to safety problems in the company's self-driving program days before a fatal crash has a warning for the broader industry.
Robbie Miller says auto and tech companies testing autonomous vehicles are driving too many miles on public roads, causing crashes at rates higher than human drivers and endangering motorists and pedestrians.
He says a fundamental rethinking is needed around safety standards and safety culture for the testing of self-driving vehicles.
"I want to make the road safer," said Miller, 35, a onetime Uber operations manager and now the chief safety officer at Pronto, a Bay Area company developing advanced driver- assist systems for the trucking industry. "Other programs out there, you know, they're basically spouting science fiction about things that are years away."
His warnings come at a critical time. Next month, Congress is expected to push for legislation that paves the way for widespread deployment of self-driving vehicles. Yet there's no government or industry consensus on safety standards.
Chief among Miller's concerns: Companies are focusing on the number of autonomous miles they're driving and equating mileage with safety. In his view, there's little value in high-volume testing. On the contrary, he says the primary return is an elevated level of risk.