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Former Self-Driving Uber Safety Pilot Says He Wasn’t Allowed Bathroom Breaks

Ex-Uber employee Ryan Kelley has several complaints, and thinks he was fired for all the wrong reasons.

Apparently, there are some speed bumps on the road of progress. That’s according to former Uber employee Ryan Kelley who, according to an interview with Business Insider, wasn’t allowed to take bathroom breaks while performing his day-to-day duties.

Kelley’s role was as a safety driver. His job was to ride around in an autonomous Uber from the driver’s seat, ready to take over if anything catastrophic happened. During December 2017—a month before he was fired—he was allegedly encouraged to avoid taking bathroom breaks.

Apparently, if the self-driving Uber was stopped, it would take up to an hour to reboot, limiting the amount of time and number of miles it could log during testing that day.

On another day during that same month, the self-driving Ubers were braking aggressively. Kelley stated that the experience was akin to “being in a series of low-end collisions for three hours, with my head slamming against the headrest constantly.” He also complained of a headache and blurred vision as a result.

He wasn’t alone, either; several drivers complained of similar symptoms that day. The safety manager, Rob Shoup, went so far as to claim that the safety drivers were faking their injuries.

After urging from his wife, Kelley sought medical treatment and was diagnosed with a mild concussion—an injury consistent with being in a low-level car accident, just as he described. Kelley brought his diagnosis into work and reported Shoup to the human resources department.

One month later, Kelley was fired, reportedly accused of rolling through a stop sign and not reporting it to his manager. Kelley thinks that Uber had ulterior motives for firing him, though no more information on the matter is currently available.