Witness Saw Uber Robot Car Drive Through Red Light Three Weeks Ago in San Francisco

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SANTA MONICA, CA – 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.

Uber began offering rides with its self-driving cars without the required state permit on Dec. 14.  The red-light violation occured 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.”

Read Consumer Watchdog’s letter to the DMV here:

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.”

Details of how to reach Mr. Koff are available by calling Consumer Watchdog at 310-392-7041.


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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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