Uber's self-driving cars ran six red lights in San Francisco, California sometime late last year. The company is now facing a lawsuit to add to its growing pile of controversies.
An autonomous Volvo owned by Uber ran through a red light while playing the street in front of the Museum of Modern Art. The violation was recorded by the dash cam of another vehicle. Uber initially insisted that the traffic violation was due to human error and not the fault of the self-driving technology. The company spokesperson, Chelsea Kohler, later indicated that the violations would have been avoided had the human driver intervened with the autonomous system. As such, the vehicle or vehicles in question violated traffic laws in six different instances and is now the subject of a lawsuit.
Ars Technica noted that the self-driving cars guilty of the traffic violations were part of a test conducted by the company on the streets of San Francisco back in December last year. The tests were conducted with Uber vice president Anthony Levandowski taking charge. It must be noted that Levandowski, who previously worked for Google, is in the center of a patent infringement lawsuit filed against Uber by Google's self-driving car division, Waymo.
According to the New York Times, Uber defied California State regulators when it went through with the experiment. The California Department of Motor vehicles (DMV) told Uber beforehand that the company would be required to produce an autonomous testing permit before it can go through with the experiment. In its defense, Uber said that the cars involved in the tests were using Advanced Driver Assist Systems or ADAS instead of a truly autonomous technology. The state's DMV later revoked the registrations of the self-driving cars forcing the company to move their experiment elsewhere, particularly to Arizona.
Uber has been recently controversial, to say the least. It drew some flak for continuing its operations despite the boycott at the JFK airport to condemn President Donald Trump's immigration ban. Uber's actions triggered the hashtag #DeleteUber which affected the company negatively as its CEO admitted. Also very recently, new hire Amit Singhal was forced to resign after it was discovered that he did not indicate during the hiring process that he was involved in a sexual harassment case while he was still with Google. Taxi drivers have also accused the share-riding service of taking jobs away from them though a recent study by Oxford University researchers says otherwise. According to the research, Uber did not affect the employment rate among taxi drivers but caused their earning capacity to decrease.