Transportation giant Uber has been threatened by authorities in California after a number of its self-driving vehicles were spotted committing traffic violations during testing in San Francisco.
The company has failed to get the appropriate state permit to trial the autonomous vehicles – but has argued that it isn’t needed, because all its cars have a driver to monitor the situation and take over if required.
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Uber is trialling ‘a handful’ of Volvo XC90s fitted with its autonomous driving equipment in the city – with two caught on camera running red lights during the first day of the trial.
The first was caught on dashcam by an operations manager for cab company Luxor. It shows an Uber XC90 running through a pedestrian crossing several seconds after the light changed to red.
Elsewhere in the city, a member of the public also snapped an Uber vehicle ignoring a red light at an intersection.
The company has responded blaming the incidents on ‘human error’.
In a statement, Uber said: “These incidents were due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. The drivers involved have been suspended while we continue to investigate.”
Regulators in California have written to Uber threatening to take legal action if it didn’t stop trialling the vehicles with a permit.
“It is essential that Uber takes appropriate measures to ensure safety of the public,” the California department of motor vehicles (DMV) said. “If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action.”
The company is no stranger to controversy. It’s attracted a great deal of criticism – and legal challenges – over its use of unlicensed drivers.