Uber's driverless cabs began picking people up in Arizona in February, after its attempt at a pilot test in San Francisco. Now, one of these cars has been in an accident, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.
The pilot, and issues stemming from it, are just the start of a terrible year for Uber. Here's a quick timeline of their troubles, with the major events bolded.
- Uber's San Francisco pilot starts.
- After Uber's first day of the SF pilot, a video emerges showing an Uber self-driving car running a red light. Company blames "human error." You can see Uber's self-driving Volvo run the red at 10 seconds in to this video:
- California demands that Uber stop their SF pilot, apply for testing permits for $150 per car, and adhere to California regulations. Uber refuses.
- Uber stops SF pilot after California DMV pulls their registrations.
- During widespread protests at airports, JFK's taxi drivers strike for an hour. Uber continues operating rides, but tweets about halfway through the strike that it has turned off surge pricing.
- Protestors and people around the world see Uber's move as trying to profit off the taxi strike and protests and #DeleteUber trends on social media.
- So many people try to delete Uber that the company needs to replace their ad-hock manual removal of customers with a buggy automated system.
- Former employee Susan Fowler highlights Uber's sexist management and "Game of Thrones" politics in a blistering blog post.
- Google's autonomous car business, Waymo, sues Uber's head of driverless, Anthony Levandowski, saying he had stolen plans when he left Google and Uber was using those plans in its own LiDAR.
- The New York Times reports that Uber's cars were caught running at least six red lights in the San Francisco area due to a fault with their mapping programs, not human error, as the company had claimed previously.
- CEO Travis Kalanick fires SVP of engineering Amit Singhal after it was revealed he did not disclose that he left Google amid "credible" sexual harassment claims from a female employee.
- Video of Kalanick verbally abusing an Uber driver is leaked, forcing him to issue an apology to his staff.
- The New York Times revealed that Uber was using a data-gathering tool called Greyball to evade authorities by identifying officials trying to crack down on the company in areas where the service had been deemed illegal.
- Greyball could identify and exclude threats from the Uber ecosystem, by serving them up a fake version of the app and pairing them with "ghost" cars that don't actually exist for their rides.
- The company put it to use in cities like Boston, Paris, and Las Vegas, and in countries like Australia, China, and South Korea.
- Kalanick announces they're looking for a Chief Operating Officer to help him manage the company, stemming from an internal investigation into allegations of sexism within the company and other major scandals.
- Documents leaked to Recode show Uber's self-driving tests haven't been smooth sailing.
- Although they are increasing the number of miles covered, human drivers often had to take over the cars about once a mile, which indicates a lack of steady improvement.
- Uber president Jeff Jones leaves citing inconsistency in relation to"beliefs and approach to leadership."
- Kalanick's management style and temper poses a problem for Uber again as evidenced by a report from The Information.
- The Information reveals that top Uber executives paid a visit to a Seoul Escort and Karaoke bar back in 2014, during which top managers picked out escort by number to be their companions for the evening.
- One of Uber's self-driving cars crashes in Arizona after colliding with another driver. Uber confirms that the fleet in AZ will remain grounded as a result.
It's difficult to say what will happen next for the car-sharing company, but so far, it's not looking too good. Do you think that Uber can weather the three-month storm?