Robo-Car Wars Witness: Uber-robo drove through red light while self-driving

There’s a problem when breaking the law, especially in a small town like San Francisco, someone is bound to see a crime and since there is a giant Uber on the side of the car, be able to identify the event. A witness saw an Uber robot car drive through a red light in San Francisco three weeks ago and Consumer Watchdog today shared details of the incident with the Department of Motor Vehicles to help it prepare legal action against the renegade firm.

The DMV wrote a letter to Uber stating, ““If Uber cannot advise the undersigned that it will immediately remove its self-driving vehicles from California public roadways until it obtains the appropriate permit, as 20 other companies have done, the Attorney General will seek injunctive and other appropriate relief,”

Uber began offering rides with its self-driving cars without the required state permit on Dec. 14. The red-light violation well before that, according to Christopher Koff, who witnessed the incident.

“Uber was flouting the law and operating unsafely using San Francisco’s streets as a private laboratory well before they went public,” said John M. Simpson. “The state must shut this renegade operation down. We believe there is a criminal violation and CEO Travis Kalanick should be arrested.”

Christopher Koff, who operates a café in San Francisco, told Consumer Watchdog on Monday that about three weeks ago he witnessed an Uber self-driving vehicle with an operator behind the wheel talking to a passenger with a laptop. Mr. Koff reports he saw the car drive through a red light and then pull to the side of the road and stop after crossing the intersection. Another vehicle had to brake abruptly to avoid a crash in the intersection, he said. Mr. Koff reports that the man in the driver’s seat did not have his hands on the steering wheel when the robot car went through the red light.

“This is further proof of Uber’s flagrant flouting of the law and its unsafe operation on San Francisco’s streets,” Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the DMV said. “As you prepare the case against the company and, we hope, its CEO Travis Kalanick, Consumer Watchdog urges you to contact Mr. Koff, who is willing to discuss what he witnessed.”

Rob-car Wars first came into the news last week, when a taxi posted video of an Uber rob-car running a stop light. Uber said that the it was human driver error. Uber contends that the company is not testing autonmous cars because there is always a driver behind the wheel.