A cab driver in San Francisco appears to have caught a self-driving Uber on film running a red light on the first day that the autonomous cars are shuttling passengers around town.
As the San Francisco Examiner first reported, the video shows going through on yellow as the cab stops and the light turns red. A few seconds later, what appears to be a self-driving Uber rolls through the intersection – even as a pedestrian steps into the crosswalk.
After initially telling Business Insider it was looking into the matter, Uber sent the following statement later on Wednesday:
“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.”
Uber’s definition of human error, including at what point the car may have been switched from autonomous mode to human mode, is not clear however. And because Uber maintains that it does not need to be regulated by the state of California, the company is not submitting the regular reports to the DMV (as Google and others do) which detail any incidents and accidents.
What is clear is that the video shows a very close call between the Uber and a pedestrian.
The red light run comes on the first day of Uber’s new pilot program in San Francisco. Uber riders who request an UberX have a chance to be matched with a self-driving vehicle, although there’s no way to specifically request one. A trained driver and engineer still have to sit in the front seat and be ready to take over at a moment’s notice.
“The experience felt like riding with a 16-year-old just learning to drive: a little jerky and a little uncertain. When one pedestrian entered the left side of the street to cross to a raised bus stop in the middle, it hastily slowed down – unsure whether the human would stop or continue into its path. A more seasoned driver (human or computer) would’ve kept an eye on the person instead of braking out of an abundance of caution, knowing that the pedestrian might keep walking since the raised pedestrian zone was clearly there.
An abundance of caution was the theme for the ride – which isn’t a bad thing given the crazy happenings that define the crowded streets of San Francisco. The car braked early at lights and left a lot of space in between the car in front of it. Unlike impatient humans, it also didn’t creep slowly at an intersection waiting for a light to turn green.
Whether the driver was human or a computer, the video shows a very close call between the Uber and a pedestrian and one just hours after its major launch in San Francisco. If the company were to ever get in an accident though, it would remain unreported since the company doesn’t believe it should be regulated by the state of California.
You can watch the full video below: