Uber Defies California’s Order to Stop Self-Driving Car Program

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Uber said that it will keep testing its self-driving cars in California without permit. The company noted that it will not comply with the Department of Motor Vehicles’ (DMV) demand that it obtain permit to test its autonomous vehicles in San Francisco. It claimed to respect the state regulators, but took issue with California’s definition of self-driving cars.

Uber thinks it does not need a permit for its self-driving vehicles in California

On Wednesday, the ride hailing giant opened its self-driving service to users in San Francisco. The company said that it would not be applying for the permit because it does not believe that regulations around autonomous vehicles apply to its automobiles.

According to the Verge, Uber argued that because its self-driving cars require humans in the driver’s seat supervising the ride, they cannot be technically defined as autonomous cars under the state law. The company’s autonomous lead Anthony Levandowski expressed that they “respectfully disagree” with the state DMV’s interpretation of self-driving regulations, especially that the etaxi giant needs a testing permit to operate its autonomous vehicles in California.

According to USA Today, the DMV has sent Uber a cease-and-desist letter saying it must halt it autonomous vehicle tests in California. However, the on-demand transportation service revved its engines, announcing it would continue testing the cars despite the state regulators’ stance.

Uber Technologies Inc. is stubbornly refusing to apply for a California permit for its self-driving vehicles. The DMV insists that it needs a permit for testing, while the ride-hailing giant insists it does not. The app-based car service’s position is that the semi-autonomous automobile system it is testing is the same as current advanced driver assistance systems available for Tesla owners and other vehicles that assist in collision avoidance and parking.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Uber Inc. said that it is hard to understand why the motor vehicle regulator would seek to require the company’s self-driving cars to obtain permit when it accepts that Tesla Motors’ autopilot tech does not need it. Levandowski said that in essence, the high-flying transportation firm’s new fleet of taxis should be treated the same as Elon Musk’s electric cars.

Consumer Watchdog’s privacy project director, John Simpson, said that the on-demand car service’s decision is “outrageously irresponsible.” Levandowski said that real-world testing in public roads is important both to improve the technology over time and gain public trust.

Uber revealed it will continue its self-driving car program in San Francisco despite California’s order to stop the tests. It explained that what the company is working on does not meet the Department of Motor Vehicles’ requirements for a truly self-driving automobile, which would be one that drives without the monitoring or physical control of a human being. The DMV said that if the ride-haling company does not immediately stop its program and seek a permit, it will initiate legal action.

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