Innovation

Uber’s Driverless Testing Hits A Bump In The Road

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles says Uber failed to comply with state regulations

Uber has been forced to take its fleet of self-driving cars off the roads in San Francisco after failing to comply with regulations, just a week into its autonomous vehicle programme.

Regulations in San Francisco require businesses to have a permit for testing self-driving cars on public roads. Uber has been arguing that it doesn’t need the permits as its cars still require a person to be present at all times.

However, the California Department of Motor Vehicles has firmly put the brakes on Uber’s efforts in the Golden State by revoking the registrations of the company’s 16 driverless cars in the area.

cars in heavy traffic

Red light

After first trialling its autonomous car service in Pittsburgh, Uber said that it is 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.”

California defines self-driving vehicles as those that are able to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.” Uber’s argument is that, as a driver and engineer are always present in the car to take over in more tricky situations such as pedestrian crossings, the cars aren’t continuously in autonomous mode so the law should not apply.

The DMV told Uber that it would of allowed the testing to continue if a permit had been obtained, however it is now unclear whether the taxi-app company will continue its efforts in California or just relocate its self-driving cars to a different state.

Uber is, of course, not the only company putting its eggs in the autonomous vehicles basket. Jaguar Land Rover announced that it planned to start testing self-driving cars this year, Ford is planning to manufacture a fleet of driverless cars by 2021 and  Apple confirmed for the first time that it is also working on developing the technology.

However, leading the way is Google, which has already tested its vehicles in California and was looking to bring its vehicles to London this year.

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