Uber
Uber

UberX Is Deploying Self-Driving Cars in San Francisco

Uber
Uber

If you order up an UberX in the Bay Area, your car may show up sans driver. The ride-hailing app just debuted autonomous vehicles to supplement its fleet of human drivers in San Francisco, according to The Verge.

The company began testing autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh in September, and tech-obsessed Silicon Valley seems like an obvious choice for a bigger trial. Uber says that San Francisco’s varied terrain, traffic, greater density of cyclists, and weather will provide a new layer of challenges that can help the company improve its vehicle technology. The San Francisco pilot will feature Volvo XC90s, compared to the Ford Fusions deployed in Pittsburgh.

You won’t necessarily get an autonomous car every time you order. Sometimes, a human driver may be closer. Even if you do, there will still be a human minder to take the wheel if something goes wrong. Still, if you prefer not to get in a car driven by a robot, you can also opt out in the app and end up with a person instead.

However, there are some roadblocks. According to The Verge, the pilot may run afoul of California’s strict driving laws, which require companies to obtain permits to let autonomous cars run wild on city streets. Uber doesn’t yet have those permits. But the company thinks those rules don't apply to its cars. Of the state requirement, the company's statement says, "We have looked at this issue carefully and we don’t believe we do [need testing permits]." Uber goes on to explain:

"First, we are not planning to operate any differently than in Pittsburgh, where our pilot has been running successfully for several months. Second, the rules apply to cars that can drive without someone controlling or monitoring them. For us, it’s still early days and our cars are not yet ready to drive without a person monitoring them."

Whether the California DMV will be persuaded is a different matter.

[h/t The Verge]

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Roadside Bear Statue in Wales is So Lifelike That Safety Officials Want It Removed
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iStock

Wooden bear statue.

There are no real bears in the British Isles for residents to worry about, but a statue of one in the small Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells has become a cause of concern. As The Telegraph reports, the statue is so convincing that it's scaring drivers, causing at least one motorist to crash her car. Now road safety officials are demanding it be removed.

The 10-foot wooden statue has been a fixture on the roadside for at least 15 years. It made headlines in May of 2018 when a woman driving her car saw the landmark and took it to be the real thing. She was so startled that she veered off the road and into a street sign.

After the incident, she complained about the bear to highways officials who agreed that it poses a safety threat and should be removed. But the small town isn't giving in to the Welsh government's demands so quickly.

The bear statue was originally erected on the site of a now-defunct wool mill. Even though the mill has since closed, locals still see the statue as an important landmark. Llanwrtyd Wells councilor Peter James called it an "iconic gateway of the town," according to The Telegraph.

Another town resident, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Telegraph that the woman who crashed her car had been a tourist from Canada where bears are common. Bear were hunted to extinction in Britain about 1000 years ago, so local drivers have no reason to look out for the real animals on the side of the road.

The statue remains in its old spot, but Welsh government officials plan to remove it themselves if the town doesn't cooperate. For now, temporary traffic lights have been set up around the site of the accident to prevent any similar incidents.

[h/t The Telegraph]

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The Best (and Worst) States for Summer Road Trips
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iStock

As we shared recently, the great American road trip is making a comeback, but some parts of the country are more suitable for hitting the open road than others. If you're interested in taking a road trip this summer but are stuck on figuring out the destination, WalletHub has got you covered: The financial advisory website analyzed factors like road conditions, gas prices, and concentration of activities to give you this map of the best states to explore by car.

Wyoming—home to the iconic road trip destination Yellowstone National Park—ranked No. 1 overall with a total score of 58.75 out of 100. It's followed by North Carolina in the No. 2 slot, Minnesota at No. 3, and Texas at No. 4. Coming in the last four slots are the three smallest states in America—Rhode Island, Delaware, and Connecticut—and Hawaii, a state that's obviously difficult to reach by car.

But you shouldn't only look at the overall score if you're planning a road trip route: Some states that did poorly in one category excelled in others. California for example, came in 12th place overall, and ranked first when it came to activities and 41st in cost. So if you have an unlimited budget and want to fit as many fun stops into your vacation as possible, taking a trip up the West Coast may be the way to go. On the other end of the spectrum, Mississippi is a good place to travel if you're conscious of spending, ranking second in costs, but leaves a lot to be desired in terms of the quality of your trip, coming in 38th place for safety and 44th for activities.

Choosing the stops for your summer road trip is just the first step of the planning process. Once you have that covered, don't forget to pack these essentials.

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