Thursday, December 15, 2016

Uber Blames Humans For Self-Driving Car Traffic Offences, As California Orders A Halt To Trials.


Transit regulators ordered the company to take vehicles off the roads on first day they were launched without permits in Uber’s home town of San Francisco.

California regulators ordered Uber to remove its self-driving vehicles from the road on the same day that the company’s vehicles were caught running red lights – violations the company immediately blamed on “human error”.

“It is essential that Uber takes appropriate measures to ensure safety of the public,” the California department of motor vehicles (DMV) wrote to Uber on Wednesday after it defied government officials and began piloting the cars in San Francisco without permits. “If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action.”

An Uber spokesperson said two red-light violations were due to mistakes by the people required to sit behind the steering wheel and said the company has suspended the drivers.

A video posted by Charles Rotter, an operations manager at Luxor, a traditional cab company, shows one of Uber’s computer-controlled cars plowing through a pedestrian crosswalk in downtown about four seconds after the light turned red. Elsewhere, a photofrom a San Francisco writer showed one of the Uber vehicles entering an intersection against a red light.

“People could die,” Rotter said in an interview later. “This is obviously not ready for primetime.”

The traffic violations and threat of legal action are a significant blow to Uber in its home town, where the California department of motor vehicles has said that Uber requires permits to test the technology on its roads

Despite that stated mandate from a government agency, Uber declared in a blog postthat it did not believe it needed a “testing permit” to launch self-driving vehicles in San Francisco, arguing that the rules don’t apply since the cars have people in them monitoring movements. 

“Most states see the potential benefits, especially when it comes to road safety,” wrote Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s advanced technology group. His post announcing the Wednesday launch noted the Volvo XC90s’ “core safety capabilities”.

In his letter to Levandowski, the DMV’s deputy director Brian Soublet noted that 20 companies have already been approved to test self-driving vehicles in California. 

“They are obeying the law and are responsibly testing and advancing their technology,” he said, adding, “This technology holds the promise of true safety benefits on our roadways, but must be tested responsibly.”

The self-driving vehicles of the popular car-sharing company were first unveiled in Pittsburgh in September. The vehicles have technology that allows them to navigate on their own, though licensed drivers sit behind the wheel and can take control as necessary. 

Annie Gaus, a San Francisco writer and producer, said she was riding to work on Wednesday in a Lyft, Uber’s biggest competitor, when she saw one of the Uber self-driving vehicles nearly crash into her

“The Uber car sort of jutted out into the intersection,” she told the Guardian by phone, noting that she and her Lyft driver were both taken aback. “It was close enough that we were both kind of like, ‘Woah.’ It’s close enough that you kind of react and are sort of rattled.” 

Gaus, who has written about technology and has contributed to the Guardian, said the red-light violations on day one of the pilot seem to highlight how the implementation of the technology in a place like San Francisco may be premature. 

“I don’t think anybody has a good understanding of how this works in a city context.”

An Uber spokesperson said both cars running red lights were not part of the pilot and weren’t carrying customers.

“These incidents were due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers,” the statement said. “The drivers involved have been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

The company did not immediately respond to questions about the state’s order to remove the cars from the road.

It’s unclear how law enforcement may address these kinds of violations. 

Asked how the San Francisco police department would respond to a self-driving Uber running a red-light, officer Giselle Talkoff said: “I don’t even know. I guess we could pull them over.” 

After the Guardian sent Talkoff footage of the Uber violation, first reported by the San Francisco Examiner, she said the police were not investigating the specific incident at this time. But she noted officers would follow up in cases in which there was an injury or if they witnessed a violation in person – though she said she wasn’t sure if the “secondary driver” or the company would be held accountable.

“There was a person that was walking very closely,” she said of the footage, pointing out that a pedestrian was entering the street when the Uber car ran the red. 

Talkoff further noted that there aren’t state or federal laws governing self-driving cars. 

“First comes technology, then comes policy. It’s going to be a matter of setting some precedents,” she said, adding, “The companies that are putting these vehicles on the road should have their vehicles operate with due regard to the rules of the road.” 

A sergeant with the police traffic division said his department was not even aware that Uber had started using autonomous cars in San Francisco. 

Rotter argued that the technology company should be held responsible for sending the vehicles out on the road despite government objections. 

“What this company has done is start operating illegally and push for permission later".

Source :  Guardian News. 


Thefat Girl said...

Why would Uber be to blame, look at the accidents in London, it's their partners not Uber. If the police aren't going to investigate because there are no injuries, that says it all. The law is playing catch up and Uber are taking advantage. Until someone prominent or famous is hurt or worse, who cares, they're cheap!!

Anonymous said...

Hsa no one else noticed this; the self driving car in the photo is a VOLVO !
VOLVO is owned by GEELY the very same company that owns the London Taxi Company.

They are obviously developing self driving cars which will be operated by UBER.

I have no understanding as to why Taxi Drivers cannot see what is blatantly obvious.

GEELY have been complicit in forcing taxi drivers to scrap their taxis and buy newer MORE polluting Taxis and are now developing driverless UBER cars which will further decimate the Taxi market

The Taxi Age Limit forced drivers to scrap perfectly good taxis and replace them with new taxis supplied by GEELY.
These new taxis are MORE polluting than those that were scrapped, which means that at some point in the very near future it is very likely that politicians will take action and say that the new taxis are causing pollution and should be scrapped as well.
It is also very likely that most towns and cities in the UK will not allow the new polluting taxis to operate in their cities meaning there is no re sale value for taxis.

This means that Taxi Drivers will be forced to scrap the new taxis they have bought and then buy an even more expensive Electric Cab from GEELY at £60k and compete in a market with driverless UBER cars.

I have been campaigning about the blatantly corrupt and improper London Taxi Age Limit for many years because I knew what was going to happen. It has been very frustrating to be completely ignored by Taxi Drivers who will now suffer because they have refused to listen to good advice.

I was recently pleased that the UCG supported the call for a Public Inquiry into TFL which will expose the corruption, such as the Taxi Age Limit.
However I have been left disappointed yet again that there has been no further support or ongoing action calling for a Public Inquiry.
The end is nigh !
Dave Davies

Anonymous said...

Maybe the cars are allready in London lol

Anonymous said...

What's the point of having self driving phv cars when there tyres keep getting slashed😉

Anonymous said...

what makes you think that GEELY aren't also developing a driver-less London Taxi - it will probably have a Dummy , in the driver's seat, that talks incessantly, but does little else