Uber says self-driving car ran red light due to “human error”

Update 7 PM ET- An Uber spokesperson says the incident in the video above was definitely caused by an error on the part of a human driver – full statement:

This incident was due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate.

Uber is aware of the incident depicted in the video above, which appears to show one of its self-driving test SUVs running a red light in San Francisco, where it launched a live pilot of the cars in service early on Wednesday; the company tells TechCrunch it is investigating what exactly occurred. The video, published by the San Francisco Examiner, was captured by a dashcam mounted inside a vehicle operated by Luxor Cab, one of SF’s licensed cab companies.

When contacted and asked for more information about the incident caught on the taxi’s camera, an Uber spokesperson provided the following statement:

Safety is our top priority. This incident has been reported and we are looking into what happened.

Uber’s self-driving test vehicles in San Francisco have a human driver behind the wheel, as well as a co-pilot technician in the front passenger seat taking measurements and observing data about the rides. The human driver is there to take control of the vehicle in case of any incidents, including ones like this, in theory, where a vehicle might fail to come to a complete stop at an intersection.

It’s also possible the human driver was in control of the vehicle at the time of the incident in the video, which would obviously present its own set of problems. Early on in the company’s Pittsburgh trials, reports emerged of incidents with the Ford Fusion self-driving test vehicles it’s using in that city, including wrong-way driving.

That the cars are not able to fully drive themselves is part of the reason Uber has argued that it does not need to seek from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles a permit to test its vehicles on California roads (a position which the DMV contests).

We’ve asked Uber to update us if they discover more about the conditions surrounding the incident in the video and will update when and if that becomes available.