Thursday, December 22, 2016

As Uber Pulls Autonomous Vehicles Off San Francisco Streets, A Meta-Analysis Of Uber's Bargaining Stance In California

Two from TechCrunch. First up, Dec. 21:

Uber stops San Francisco self-driving pilot as DMV revoked registrations
Uber has confirmed that it will stop its self-driving pilot in San Francisco, following a meeting today with the California DMV and Attorney General’s office. The DMV revoked the registration on 16 self-driving test vehicles Uber was using in its pilot.

The DMV tells TechCrunch that it invited Uber to complete its permitting process at the same time it revoked it the vehicle registrations. Uber told TechCrunch that it will instead be looking to deploy the vehicles elsewhere for the time being. Here’s Uber’s statement on the matter in full:
We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars. 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.
Uber had begun updating self-driving Volvo X90 SUVs in San Francisco on December 14, providing service to randomly selected uberX customers in the area. It chose not to pursue the permit the state issues to companies for testing autonomous vehicles on public roads, arguing that its cars didn’t require such permits as they could not operate completely autonomously at this stage....MORE

Uber brilliantly sets self-driving battle at permission, not existence
Should Uber’s self-driving taxis be allowed on the road? If Uber’s shrewd strategy plays out, we’ll never even ask. Instead, Uber wants to divert everyone’s attention to a much less consequential question: Does Uber even need a permit to test self-driving taxis?

The genius here is that it doesn’t matter if it wins or loses this fight. If it wins its permission skirmish with the California DMV, it doesn’t even get forced into basic oversight or regulation, it can just do as it pleases. If it loses, it will have to apply for a $150 permit and provide data to the CA DMV about accidents or when humans took the wheel.

This will likely go to the courts. But either way, Uber self-driving taxis would continue to exist....MORE
The one question that comes to mind is will Kalanick attempt the petulent 'bro' manipulator move of taking the testing to Nevada or Michigan with a "see what you made us do!"