Uber launched a fleet of its much anticipated self-driving cars in San Francisco on Wednesday, and by late morning the effort already hit a bad-driver milestone: running a red light.
A video obtained first by the San Francisco Examiner appears to show an Uber self-driving car running a red light downtown.
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These vehicles also have Uber drivers and engineers as backups at the wheel of the car, according to various news reports, leaving it unclear as to why no one simply hit the brakes.
Uber did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The video is from the dashboard camera of a Luxor Cab, a taxi company in The City.
Charles Rotter, operations manager at Luxor, confirmed to the Examiner that the video was from Wednesday.
“Yes, the dashcam of one of our ramp vans at 10:37 this am,” he wrote, in an email.
The cab pulls up to a red light on Third Street in South of Market, by the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. A pack of cars flies through a yellow light, and one even drives through the first moment of a red light.
About three seconds after the light turned red, an Uber self-driving car can apparently be seen traveling through the red light at moderate speed as a pedestrian walks across the intersection on the right side of the intersection.
In its blog Wednesday, Uber wrote it launched self-driving vehicles in California without self-testing permits from the DMV because it has drivers in the vehicles. “We have looked at this issue carefully and we don’t believe we do (need permits),” Uber wrote.
Earlier Wednesday, a social media report spotted another self-driving vehicle running a red light near the Marina District.
Annie Gaus, a freelance writer and producer in San Francisco, tweeted Wednesday morning that she “Just passed a ‘self-driving’ Uber that lurched into the intersection on Van Ness [Avenue], on a red, nearly hitting my Lyft.”
Read the tweet below:
(Not enough time to get a good shot, but…whoops!) pic.twitter.com/XK49nMF2Q4
— Annie Gaus (@AnnieGaus) December 14, 2016
Speaking with the San Francisco Examiner, Gaus said she was headed to Union Street when the Uber vehicle jutted out across Union Street on a red light, and nearly hit the Lyft car she was riding in.
“It was close enough that both myself and the driver reacted and were like, ‘Shit,’” she said. “It stopped suddenly and stayed like that, as you see in the photo.”
Gaus’ photo does apparently show the Uber self-driving vehicle, notable for its roof camera apparatus, partway through an intersection on a red light.
Uber launched its self-driving vehicles on the streets of San Francisco Wednesday after piloting the program in Pittsburgh earlier this year.
“Self-driving cars have been picking up and dropping off riders on the streets of Pittsburgh for the last three months, and now we’re excited to bring them to our hometown,” reads an email from Uber sent to customers early Wednesday.
The email continues, “Ready to take a ride in a self-driving Uber?”
If you see any incidents involving Uber self-driving vehicles in San Francisco, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Editor’s Note: This story has been updated from its original version.