Ride-sharing firm Uber has been told to stop offering passengers self-driving cars in San Francisco, hours after it launched the service.
Uber employees are required to keep their hands on the steering wheel at all times even in the self-driving vehicle, so there's a possibility this could have been human error all along. The DMV said they "fully" support autonomous vehicle technology, but it "must be tested responsibly".
State regulators cracked down on the ride-hailing company's autonomous vehicle program that was knowingly operating without a permit. The SUVs will be outfitted with sensors so they can navigate San Francisco's hilly streets and avoid hordes of bicycle commuters.
The company argues that its cars aren't covered by the permit requirement, which says an "autonomous vehicle" requires a permit if it can drive itself "without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person".
Uber is riding its self-driving cars into a legal showdown with California regulators.
In a blog published on the same day, Anthony Levandowski - Uber's head of advanced technology - referenced a "debate" over whether the company needed a permit to operate self-driving vehicles in the state.
The California law adopted in 2014 requires testers of "autonomous vehicles" to acquire a permit if the auto can drive itself "without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person". Therefore, he said, the Volvos are not autonomous - and do not require a permit.
'Don't start doing this stuff, ' he said of Uber. Apply for the permit. The state insists Uber must shut down the new self-driving service until it obtains a special permit for testing on public roads, while Uber says the cars are exempt from the permit requirement because they have a backup driver behind the wheel. Companies with one must report to the state all crashes and every instance in which a person takes control during testing.
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In a blog post Tuesday, Levandowski warned that "complex rules and requirements could have the unintended outcome of slowing innovation" and named several places outside California he characterized as being "pro technology".
Negotiations over whether Uber must stop its newly launched self-driving vehicle service in San Francisco have concluded without a clear resolution, according to California transportation regulators.
Uber explains that testing cars in San Francisco will allow it to learn how its technology reacts to varied weather, narrow lanes, and a relatively high traffic density.
They will cost the same amount as normal ones, and users may be matched automatically with a self-driving vehicle unless they opt out.
That outing seems to have worked, so Uber is now off to San Francisco with the specially converted XC90s as the relationship between Volvo and Uber grows, with Volvo building the cars and flogging them to Uber who then fit their own AD hardware and software (they're also a bit hard to miss with their roof-mounted gubbins).
Video of one of the company's self-driving Volvo SUV's running a light was recorded by a camera mounted on the dashboard of a nearby auto, according to a report from the local CBS station.
Once testing is complete, the ultimate vision is to sell to the public technology that supporters argue will save thousands of lives because it doesn't drink, text, fall asleep or take risky risks.