Uber’s self-driving cars come to San Francisco, sort of

One of Uber’s self driving cars was recently spotted by SFist while being driven (the old-fashioned way) through the streets of San Francisco. You can see the car in action in the video embedded below:


A video posted by Eve Batey (@evelb) on

According to reports, the car is currently mapping streets in an effort to make sure its trip data is as accurate as possible. Although some drivers initially thought they were sharing the road with a self-driving vehicle, the conventionally piloted car was in no way part of the pilot program that recently launched in Pittsburgh.

Uber hasn’t announced plans to start testing their self-driving cars in San Francisco, but with the recent acquisition of Otto–a Bay Area company specializing in autonomous technology for big rig trucks–a foray into the San Francisco market doesn’t seem far off.

As we’ve written before, many passengers are wary of self-driving technology, with one survey showing 51-percent of respondents would not ride in an autonomous vehicle. The current pilot program in Pittsburgh will require riders to opt-in if they’re willing to be picked up by a self-driving car, and will also have drivers behind the wheel ready to retake control in the event of an emergency.

Both advocates and skeptics of the technology will be paying close attention to Pittsburgh over the coming months, looking to see how Uber’s fleet integrates itself with the normal flow of traffic. If Uber’s self-driving cars can establish a safe driving record, this rollout has the potential to help alleviate some of the most common concerns about the technology.

In the meantime, when you spot one of Uber’s autonomous cars out mapping the streets of San Francisco, expect to see a human driver at the wheel. At least until further notice.


Jason is a regular contributor to the GJEL Accident Attorneys Blog.