Uber Hits Self-Driving Snag In California

A fleet of self-driving Uber cars is headed to Arizona after California told the company it needed a special permit to operate its self-driving cars. The company hasn't announced a date when the cars will be tested, nor did it provide details about how many cars were included.

"Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck", Uber said in a statement. If Uber obtained a permit, the company would be subject to the same filings, prompting concern that Uber is avoiding a permit because it does not want to share these statistics-something Levandowski refutes.

Now it's more corporate waffling: Uber wanted to sell San Francisco passengers on its "state-of-the-art self-driving" cars - but once a state agency cried foul, the company changed its position on whether the cars were really all that innovative or driverless.

Uber has run afoul of regulators in its home state and elsewhere nearly since its inception in 2009, usually over taxi and labor rules.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Wednesday revoked the registration of 16 cars in Uber's self-driving fleet, which, according to the regulator, lacked the proper permits (See: Uber halts testing driver-less cars as California regulator revokes fleet registration). In California, permit-holding companies must submit annual reports on the number of times their technology disengages and the number of times test drivers intervene.

Uber's position started with the beginning of the test program on December 14, acknowledging from the start that it had chosen not to seek Autonomous Vehicle Testing permits, regardless of the fact that they aren't particularly challenging to obtain.

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"California may not want you, but we do". Arizona is proud to be open for business.

"This technology has the potential to dramatically improve society: reducing the number of traffic accidents, which today kill 1.3 million people a year; freeing up the 20 percent of space in cities now used to park the world's billion plus cars; and cutting congestion, which wastes trillions of hours every year", said Levandowski. The state DMV requires autonomous vehicle providers to register, something that Alphabet's Waymo, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, General Motors' Cruise and Baidu have done. However, many companies have said that the state's stringent rules hamper innovation and the emergence of new technologies.

The cars quickly came under fire in San Francisco when a video circulated online that appeared to show one of the retrofitted Volvos running a red light.

One day, Uber hopes to join that crowd.

Uber said on Wednesday that it remains "100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules".

  • Desiree Holland