Uber's Self-Driving Cars Hit SF, One Promptly Runs Red Light

But it says a driver was operating it at the time
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 15, 2016 2:39 AM CST
DMV Orders Uber to Get Self-Driving Cars Off SF Roads
In this photo taken Tuesday, an Uber driverless car is displayed in a garage in San Francisco.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Uber rolled out self-driving car service in San Francisco Wednesday and it did not go smoothly. Within hours, the California Department of Motor Vehicles ordered the company to halt the service, saying it was breaking the law because it didn't have the necessary testing permit to "operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads," the New York Times reports. Adding to the controversy, an Uber self-driving vehicle was filmed running a red light and almost mowing down a pedestrian, though the company later issued a statement saying that the car in question was being driven by a human at the time, reports the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The self-driving Uber cars, which are being assigned at random to Uber customers, come with a driver or engineer at the wheel to monitor the vehicle. Uber—which launched its self-driving service in Pittsburgh earlier this year—argues that this means that the vehicles are not true self-driving cars, and are therefore legal. The DMV disagrees, which could set up the kind of legal showdown that marked the service's early years, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A University of South Carolina law professor who's an expert on the issues surrounding self-driving cars tells the Chronicle that if Uber refuses to pull the self-driving service, the DMV could seek an injunction or revoke the vehicles' registrations—or police could start ticketing the human "drivers" for reckless driving. (More Uber stories.)

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