Uber removes self-driving cars from San
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[December 22, 2016]
By Heather Somerville
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Uber Technologies
Inc [UBER.UL] has removed its self-driving cars from San Francisco
streets, halting the autonomous program one week after its launch as the
company faced a regulatory crackdown.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles said on Wednesday it revoked
the registration of 16 Uber self-driving cars because they had not been
properly permitted. For the last week, the agency was demanding that
Uber shut down its program and comply with regulations requiring a
permit to test self-driving cars on public roads.
Uber said it was not obligated to have a permit because its vehicles
require continuous monitoring by a person in the car.
San Francisco was supposed to be Uber's second testing ground for its
self-driving cars. The company unveiled its self-driving cars in
September in Pittsburgh.
"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," an Uber spokeswoman said in a
California defines autonomous vehicles as having the capability to drive
"without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person."
Uber has argued that the law does not apply to its cars, which cannot
stay in autonomous mode continuously. A driver and an engineer are in
the front seats to take over frequently in sticky traffic situations
such as construction zones or pedestrian crossings.
Uber's defiance was met with threats of legal action from the DMV and
the state attorney general.
The DMV told Uber that if it had obtained a permit, the regulator would
have given the green light to the self-driving pilot. DMV director Jean
Shiomoto said in a letter sent to Uber on Wednesday that she would
"personally help to ensure an expedited review and approval process,"
which she said can take less than three days.
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A fleet of Uber's Ford Fusion self driving cars are shown during a
demonstration of self-driving automotive technology in Pittsburgh,
U.S., September 13, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron Josefczyk/File Photo
The permit process is largely seen as a public safety measure, as
regulations also require that companies provide the DMV with
accident reports. Uber, however, has complained that its home state
has favored complex rules over technological innovation.
It is not yet clear whether Uber will apply for the permit or simply
bring the self-driving cars to another state.
Another 20 companies exploring self-driving cars, including
Alphabet's <GOOG.O> Google, Tesla Motors <TSLA.O> and Ford Motor Co
<F.N>, have obtained California DMV permits for 130 cars.
Uber opened up the self-driving car program to San Francisco
passengers on Dec. 14, but has been testing the cars on city
roadways for more than a month.
(Reporting by Heather Somerville; Editing by Sandra Maler and Leslie
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