Consumer Watchdog Claims Otto’s Self-Driving Trucks not Properly Permitted

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A safety group is urging the California Department of Motor Vehicles to revoke the registrations of Otto’s self-driving trucks, claiming the vehicles are not properly permitted, and weigh more than 10,000 pounds, a violation of the state’s current testing requirements.

Consumer Watchdog filed its complaint with the DMV on Monday, alleging Otto, which is owned by Uber, has not filed for permits to operate its self-driving vehicles, a requirement under California law.

So far, 21 companies have obtained permits to test self-driving vehicles in the state.

“Rules need to be followed and Uber and Otto are thumbing their noses at following sensible regulations,” John Simpson, privacy project director at Consumer Watchdog, told “We would rather see testing of these vehicles done safely and not receive complaints after something terrible has happened.”

However, Otto disputes Consumer Watchdog’s claims that its trucks are operating in self-driving mode, a claim the DMV said it supports.

“Otto met with the DMV and the California Highway Patrol and indicated that their trucks are not capable of operating in autonomous mode in California,” the DMV said in a statement.

Consumer Watchdog’s claims over the 10,000-pound weight restriction are valid, the DMV said.

“Vehicles over 10,000 pounds are not allowed to be tested,” it said.

California’s autonomous vehicle testing regulations, which have been in place since September 2014, do not cover vehicles with a gross weight over 10,000 pounds.

“The DMV plans to look into commercial vehicle regulations in a different set of rulemakings in the future,” according to its statement.

Through a public records act request, Colorado authorities obtained documents Otto provided to the Colorado Department of Transportation that describes its self-driving testing activities in the San Francisco area. This was prior to the company’s much-publicized self-driving Budweiser beer run from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs in October 2016.

Consumer Watchdog claims the documents “clearly describe illegal testing.”

Otto did not return calls or emails for more information about Consumer Watchdog’s complaints.

Otto’s parent company, Uber, has also found itself in trouble for failing to legally permit its self-driving cars in San Francisco.

A democratic San Francisco lawmaker, Phil Ting, has filed legislation that would fine companies up to $25,000 per vehicle per day for illegally operating self-driving cars on state streets. The companies would also be prohibited from applying for a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles to test its self-driving vehicles for two years.

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