Consumer Watchdog Calls On SF Mayor Lee To Direct City Police To Monitor Uber’s Robot Cars As Vehicles Return; Asks Public To Note & Report All Violations By Renegade Company

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SANTA MONICA, CA – Consumer Watchdog today called on San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee to ask Police Chief Bill Scott to have police closely monitor Uber’s activities as it brings its robot cars back on the city’s streets, claiming they will now only gather data and not be in self-driving mode.

“Based on Uber’s past performance when they flouted California law and put their robot cars on the road without the required permits from the DMV, there is absolutely no reason to trust the company now,” wrote John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project Director in a letter to Lee.

The nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group asked the public to report any traffic violations by the robot cars or times when the threaten safety and report them to the group. When Uber put its cars on the road in December without permits – a requirement 20 other companies had no problem meeting – some Uber robot cars were seen driving through red lights.

“If you see something, say something,” Simpson said.  Send reports of Uber robot car violations and safety threats to: [email protected]

“You’ll remember that Uber’s robot cars were observed driving through red lights when they were first deployed and that Uber disingenuously blamed the human test driver. You simply cannot take Uber’s current claim that its robot cars will not be in self-driving mode, only gathering data and that the robot cars will be under human control at all times at face value.” Simpson said.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter here:

Consumer Watchdog believes that Uber refused to get required permits from the California DMV because it does not want to share important information about its test activities. California requires companies testing self-driving technology on public streets to file annual “disengagement reports” that explain circumstances when the autonomous vehicle technology failed or the test driver decided to intervene.

DMV expects to release the 2016 disengagement reports on Wednesday. Eleven of the 20 companies with testing permits are required to file reports this year.

When Uber refused to get the necessary permit, the DMV revoked the registrations on the test vehicles.  Uber then said it was moving the cars and its self-driving testing to Arizona.

Uber said last week it was bringing some of its cars back to San Francisco for mapping. 

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John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson
John M. Simpson is an American consumer rights advocate and former journalist. Since 2005, he has worked for Consumer Watchdog, a nonpartisan nonprofit public interest group, as the lead researcher on Inside Google, the group's effort to educate the public about Google's dominance over the internet and the need for greater online privacy.

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