Thursday, December 15, 2016

Uber Rolls Out S.F. Self-Driving Cars, California Says Uber Needs A Permit For Autonomous, Uber Says No, It Doesn't, California Says...

Following up on Tuesday's "Uber to put self-driving cars on the road in SF 'very soon'", Uber rolled out the self-driving cars's the story so far.

From TechCrunch, Wednesday morning:

Uber’s San Francisco self-driving pilot draws criticism from California DMV
Uber launched a small fleet of self-driving vehicles in San Francisco on Tuesday[sic], but the second city to host the public test of the ride-hailing company’s work in this area isn’t quite as enthusiastic on the regulator side. California’s DMV, which has a practice of vetting companies testing autonomous driving technology on state roads and then granting permits to those who meet its standards.

Twenty such companies are on the DMV’s list of parties approved for autonomous testing in the state, but Uber is not on that list – the DMV says it should be, but Uber maintains it doesn’t need to seek a permit because of the circumstances of its self-driving launch.

The DMV’s statement on the matter notes that while it “encourages the responsible exploration of self-driving cars,” it’s not enough to simply assume responsible action on the part of companies doing testing:
We have a permitting process in place to ensure public safety as this technology is being tested. Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits to test hundreds of cars on California roads. Uber shall do the same.
Uber, for its part, maintains that it actually doesn’t require one of these special DMV permits in California because of the nature of its testing. That’s because it sees the vehicles as still primarily human-controlled, since a driver behind the wheel with their hands at the steering wheel ready to take control is still required at this phase of testing....MORE
Via Digg:

Uh, Is This A Self-Driving Uber Running A Red Light On Its First Day Of Testing?

Uber started testing automated cars today in San Francisco, and this video appears to show one blowing through a red. As Buzzfeed notes, humans are behind the wheel (just in case), so this might be human error. Still, not an auspicious start!
And here's TechCrunch last night:

Uber ordered to stop self-driving vehicle service in San Francisco
Uber has been ordered by state regulators to stop using self-driving cars in California, according to the Associated Press, at least until it secures the necessary permit issued by the state to allow companies to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. The California Department of Motor Vehicles issued a statement saying Uber was expected to secure such a permit, but Uber maintained that it did not require this clearance because its vehicles were not fully self-driving and have a driver onboard at all times.

The self-driving pilot program in San Francisco is an expansion of Uber’s original launch of the service in Pittsburgh earlier this year. This city expansion featured Volvo’s XC90 SUV, a third-generation version of Uber’s autonomous test vehicle.

Uber said earlier that it did not intend to pursue this permit, the requirements for which are detailed by the California DMV on a site dedicated to autonomous vehicle operation on public roads. In a letter to Uber telling it to end the launch of its self-driving service, the DMV states that Uber will face “legal action, including but not limited to, seeking injunctive relief” if it does not comply.
Prior to the state regulators explicitly ordering Uber to stop, Uber’s vehicle was caught on camera apparently running a red light, thought the circumstances of this incident aren’t known at this time (including whether this was while the car was human or computer-operated when it ran the light). Uber told TechCrunch it is looking into this matter as “safety is a top priority.”

That means it’s only been less than one day since Uber started its test, had its first documented incident with the vehicles and was ordered by the state to stop what it was doing. This definitely looks more like the risk-happy Uber of the early days that often acted in contravention of local regulators to achieve its business goals....MORE