Earlier today, Uber rolled out a fleet of its not-really-self-driving cars in San Fransisco. A few hours later, one the XC90s—a Volvo equipped with seven cameras, laser detection systems, and slew of other expensive shit—appears to have completely ignored a red light on a busy, multi-lane street.
In video obtained by the San Fransisco Examiner from a traditional taxi’s dashcam, a pack of vehicles rushes to beat a yellow light on Fourth Street around 10:30am. The light goes red. Only then does the high-tech SUV move through the intersection at a totally unhurried pace. Seems like the sort of fundamental bug that should have been ironed-out prior to launch.
As alluded, Uber’s driverless cars aren’t really driverless at all. In Pittsburgh, where these vehicles debuted—amidst accusations of collusion with the city’s mayor, no less—the XC90s all have human operators to take over in case of a failure. Those human operators, as the Examiner points out, are the very reason why Uber didn’t have to get self-testing permits from the DMV in San Fransisco.
It may forever remain a mystery why the selected Uber driver elected to oversee one of the company’s high-tech autonomous cars for its debut in a new city couldn’t recognize basic traffic signals, but it seems like an easy mistake to make when the company you work for refuses to acknowledge you as an employee or provide basic amenities like health care.
Uber were not immediately available for comment.
(Cue “Benny Hill” theme)
Update 8:00 pm: In a statement to Buzzfeed, Uber claimed the car involved was not part of the pilot program (despite the apparent camera array on its roof) and faulted a human driver for the incident.
“This incident was due to human error,” said an Uber spokesperson. “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.”
Whether or not that’s true, it certainly won’t help the company as it tries to make its case to the state.