By: Nick Gambino
A lot of excitement and news has been generated around the fact that Uber had self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco in an effort to test their autonomous taxi service.
Now after a contentious couple of weeks they’ve been forced to end the pilot program and pull the driverless cars from the road.
It seems they didn’t have the right paperwork in place and by “paperwork” I mean “permit.”
“It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit, “Deputy Director of California’s DMV, Brian G. Soublet stated in a letter to the car service company. “Any action by Uber to continue operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology on public streets in California must cease until Uber complies.”
This came as quite a surprise as Uber had really hyped up this new foray into driverless cars as a huge event. So why wouldn’t they make sure they had the proper permits in place? Well if I were to take a guess I’d say it’s just Uber being…well, Uber.
They are known to play by their own rules and buck “the system” as it currently sits. Though they seemed to have a justified reason for not obtaining the permit – they don’t feel the definition of “autonomous vehicle” applies to what they’re doing.
It seems California law defines an autonomous vehicle as those that drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.”
Uber has both a driver and engineer in the front seat of each of their cars to take over when needed.
The DMV disagreed and because Uber refused to take their cars off the road they simply revoked the registration of all 16 cars.
Uber, ever the defiant ones, are deciding to go elsewhere, “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.”
It’s strange that they won’t simply apply for the permits. Something else might be afoot here. Plenty of other big companies like Google and Tesla have obtained permits to operate their self-driving cars on California’s roads. So what gives, Uber?
In the meantime, they still have their self-driving cars in Pittsburgh unless they decide to piss them off too. We’ll have to wait and see.