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Uber ordered to take self-driving cars off roads


Following its trial of autonomous cars in US city Pittsburgh, Uber has begun trialling autonomous technology in San Francisco. The trial has not gone without a hitch however, as cars were recently spotted running red lights and the DMV has ordered the company to take the cars off the road as it does not have a permit to test autonomous vehicles on California roads.

A video posted by Charles Rotter, an operations manager at taxi company Luxor, shows one of Uber’s autonomous vehicles running a red light at a pedestrian crossing just as a pedestrian begins crossing the road.

Twitter user Annie Gaus also posted a picture of an Uber vehicle running a red light at an intersection:


An Uber spokesperson blamed the events on “human error”.

“These incidents were due to human error. This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers,” the statement said.

“The drivers involved have been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

However, these incidents are not what is behind Uber’s battle with the Californian Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).

According to the DMV, companies seeking to trial autonomous vehicles on California roads require a permit, which Uber did not apply for.

In a letter to the company, the DMV’s chief counsel threatened legal action if “Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit”. California defines autonomous vehicles as having the “capability” to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person”.

Uber has hit back with the argument that it does not require a permit as its cars do not fit the definition of autonomous vehicles.

“The rules apply to cars that can drive without someone controlling or monitoring them. For us, it’s still early days and our cars are not yet ready to drive without a person monitoring them,” wrote Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber’s Advanced Technology Group in a recent blog post.

The company continued on to criticise California for not being “pro technology”.


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