Earlier today, we reported on Uber launching its autonomous ride-sharing pilot program in San Francisco and how it was justifying not needing a permit to operate self-driving cars, unlike the 20 other companies developing similar systems in California.
Just hours later, a video (embedded below) showing one of Uber’s self-driving cars running a red light in a pedestrian path in San Francisco was released, and later California regulators told the company that it needed to stop its self-driving car service in the state until it goes through the process of getting a permit.
Update: Uber has since released a statement blaming the driver of the car. See video and statement below
While the timing is certainly interesting, it doesn’t mean that the incident prompted the intervention of the regulators.
In a letter obtained by the Associated Press, California DMV officials told Uber that it “must cease” deploying the cars or face legal action.
The agency added a quick statement on its website:
“The California DMV encourages the responsible exploration of self-driving cars. We have a permitting process in place to ensure public safety as this technology is being tested. Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits to test hundreds of cars on California roads. Uber shall do the same.”
As we reported this morning, the company wants its autonomous technology to be considered a level 3, which requires active monitoring by a driver when activated and would comply with the law since California’s DMV defines autonomous systems as able to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator”.
But the company still refers to the vehicles as “self-driving”.
In a video reportedly filmed today in San Francisco, a dashcam caught one of Uber’s Volvo XC90 SUVs equipped with self-driving hardware run a red light on a pedestrian path and right before a pedestrian was about to cross.
Here’s the video:
Update: Uber released a statement blaming the driver:
This incident was due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate.