Uber puts brakes on self-driving cars in California

Uber on Wednesday said it put the brakes on
self-driving cars in California because state
officials yanked registration for vehicles
being used for a pilot program.

Uber taking its autonomous cars off San
Francisco streets ended a clash between the
California Department of Motor Vehicles
(DMV) and the on-demand ride service.

“We have stopped our self-driving pilot in
California as the DMV has revoked the
registrations for our self-driving cars,” San
Francisco-based Uber said in a statement
emailed to AFP.

“We’re now looking at where we can
redeploy these cars but remain 100 percent
committed to California and will be
redoubling our efforts to develop workable
statewide rules.”

Self-driving Uber cars were being tested here
in defiance of a state order to halt the

The ridesharing giant disputed the
interpretation by the DMV that the cars
require a special permit, saying they had the
same autonomy capabilities as Tesla cars
which have an optional “autopilot” feature.
Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s vice president
for advanced technologies, said last week that
as with the Teslas, the cars driven by Uber
still have a driver capable of assuming
control at any time.

“We respectfully disagree with the California
DMV’s interpretation of autonomous
regulations, in particular that Uber needs a
permit to operate in San Francisco,”

Levandowski told a conference call with

“While these are considered state of the art
today, they still require monitoring by a
vehicle operator at all times.”

He argued that statewide rules regarding self-
driving cars were being unevenly applied..
Levandowski said at the time that Uber
hoped to convince the DMV that its
autonomous cars were no different from
Tesla’s, which allow a driver to turn over
many operations to an onboard computer but
still need a human behind the wheel.
“We have a person sitting in the driver’s
seat, and there’s also a person next to them
looking at the system and trying to confirm
that everything is going well,” he said.

“They are able to override and take control
of the vehicle at any time.”

State regulators countered that the testing
program lacked an autonomous vehicle
testing permit required to protect public

During Uber’s brief standoff with the DMV,
reports hit that one of the cars had failed to
stop for a red light, and that the vehicles
were not giving proper deference to bicycle
lanes when making turns.

Backers of autonomous vehicles say the
technology can reduce more than 90 percent
of accidents, which mostly are due to human

Since its debut in 2010, Uber has grown into a
worldwide phenomenon despite regulatory
hurdles and resistance from traditional taxi

In its latest funding round, Uber was valued
at more than $60 billion, but has racked up
losses at it expands and takes on competitors
such as Lyft. 

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