Incident 8: Uber Autonomous Cars Running Red Lights

Description: Uber vehicles equipped with technology allowing for autonomous driving running red lights in San Francisco street testing.


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Alleged: Uber developed and deployed an AI system, which harmed pedestrians and Motorists.

Incident Stats

Incident ID
Report Count
Incident Date
Sean McGregor

CSETv0 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Full Description

Uber's autonomous vehicles have been recorded running red lights on two occasions in a pilot program on the streets of San Francisco, California. A witness, Christoper Koff, reported seeing the AI enabled Volvo XC90 SUV pass through a red light three seconds after the light had turned red and while a pedestrian was in the crosswalk. There were no injuries or collisions. Uber has denied the claim this was the system's error, citing human operator error and suspending the driver. Two Uber employees reported to the New York Times that the fault was of the AI system.

Short Description

Uber vehicles equipped with technology allowing for autonomous driving running red lights in San Francisco street testing.



AI System Description

Self-driving autonomous Uber vehicles

System Developer


Sector of Deployment

Transportation and storage

Relevant AI functions

Perception, Cognition, Action

AI Techniques

autonomous vehicles, LIDAR, radar

AI Applications

traffick flow forecasting, autonomous driving


San Francisco, CA

Named Entities

Uber, Volvo

Technology Purveyor

Uber, Volvo

Beginning Date


Ending Date


Near Miss

Near miss



Lives Lost


Infrastructure Sectors


Data Inputs

Traffick patterns, environment surroundings, human driver input

CSETv1 Taxonomy Classifications

Taxonomy Details

Harm Distribution Basis


Sector of Deployment

transportation and storage

Uber's Self-Driving Car Runs Red Light in San Francisco · 2016

An Uber equipped to drive itself ran a red light in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood Wednesday morning, per a YouTube video apparently shot from a local Luxor cab and reported by The Examiner:

In the video, a Volvo XC90 SUV decked out in t…

Uber’s Self Driving Cars Are Running Red Lights, Uber’s Blaming “Human Error” · 2016

Uber’s San Francisco trial run of its self-driving service last Tuesday is catching people’s attention. Unfortunately, it might not exactly be the kind of hype that Uber hoped for. As previously noted, the ride-hailing service company’s aut…

Witness says self-driving Uber ran red light on its own, disputing Uber's claims · 2016

Company insists traffic violations in San Francisco are the result of ‘human error’ by drivers who can take control if needed, but witness account contradicts this

An autonomous Uber malfunctioned while in “self-driving mode” and caused a n…

Uber Denounces Traffic Light Laws After Self-Driving Car Runs Red Light · 2016

Uber Denounces Traffic Light Laws After Self-Driving Car Runs Red Light

Halting Problem Blocked Unblock Follow Following Dec 23, 2016

SOMA, SAN FRANCISCO — Uber isn’t exactly known for following the rules. The ride-sharing company recently …

A self-driving Uber ran a red light last December, contrary to company claims · 2017

Last December, a self-driving Uber was caught on camera running a red light in San Francisco, shortly after the vehicles began testing on the roads. While Uber claimed at the time that a driver was at fault, a report from The New York Times…

Report contradicts Uber's explanation of robocar red light slip · 2017

James Martin/CNET

Call it another pothole for Uber.

Remember that taxicab dash-cam video of an Uber robocar running a red light in San Francisco last December? (It's embedded below.) Uber -- which had put the self-driving cars on the street…

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Missed Six Red Lights In San Francisco · 2017

Continuing a week-plus of embarrassments and bad news for Uber, the New York Times on Friday reported that traffic violations by the company’s self-driving cars were caused by problems with the cars’ mapping programs, and not, as the compan…

Uber's Autonomous Vehicles Responsible For Red Light Violations, Not "Human Error" · 2017

Despite statements to the press that "human error" was to blame for its vehicles running a series of red lights in San Francisco, the company admitted internally that it was the car that was in autonomous mode when it failed to stop at the … · 2017

A taxi’s dashcam caught this self-driving car running a red light on Third Street in December. Uber originally said a human was driving. (Courtesy photo)

Uber told reporters that a self-driving car shown on video running a red light in San …

Danger, danger! 10 alarming examples of AI gone wild · 2017

Science fiction is lousy with tales of artificial intelligence run amok. There's HAL 9000, of course, and the nefarious Skynet system from the "Terminator" films. Last year, the sinister AI Ultron came this close to defeating the Avengers, …


A "variant" is an incident that shares the same causative factors, produces similar harms, and involves the same intelligent systems as a known AI incident. Rather than index variants as entirely separate incidents, we list variations of incidents under the first similar incident submitted to the database. Unlike other submission types to the incident database, variants are not required to have reporting in evidence external to the Incident Database. Learn more from the research paper.

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