Uber stops its self-driving pilot in SF after the the DMV revoked the cars’ registrations


Uber launched its self-driving pilot in SF without DMV approval last week.

Uber has stopped its self-driving pilot in San Francisco, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. The announcement came shortly after the California DMV revoked the registration of the 16 test vehicles the company deployed as part of the pilot.

“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 spokesperson said in a statement.

The company launched the pilot on Dec. 14 without obtaining approval from the California DMV as is required by all operators of self-driving cars. In the hours after launching its vehicles, the DMV wrote a letter asking the company to cease operations and to apply for a permit.

Following the agency’s letter to Uber’s head of self-driving Anthony Levandowski, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee also asked the ride-hail company to cease operation of its pilot. In spite of the city’s many attempts to put a stop to it, Uber said it planned to keep its self-driving cars on the road.

That’s because the company contends the vehicles fall just short of the DMV’s definition of autonomous vehicles. The vehicles, which Uber worked with Volvo to develop, still require a human to maintain some level of control behind the wheel.

In California an autonomous vehicle is defined as having the capability of driving “without the active physical control or monitoring” of a person. The state allows for the driving and testing of autonomous vehicles on public roadways, but requires the operator to obtain a $150 permit to drive in the state.

The DMV considers Uber’s vehicles to be autonomous and as such require the proper permits and registration.

“Consistent with the department’s position that Uber’s vehicles are autonomous vehicles, the DMV has taken action to revoke the registration of 16 vehicles owned by Uber,” a DMV spokesperson said in a statement. “It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles. Concurrently, the department invited Uber to seek a permit so their vehicles can operate legally in California.”

Here’s the DMV’s letter to Uber:

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