Uber launches self-driving cabs in San Francisco, California DMV claims it's illegal
Uber said that users will be matched with a self-driving car if one is available, but ones that don't trust the tech, or the driver sitting behind the wheel, so he can take over if needed, can reject the self-driving car and request a regular one.
However, the California DMV doesn't seem to agree with Uber. It appears that the company failed to acquire a permit, which makes this campaign illegal, according to the state.
“It is illegal for the company to operate its self-driving vehicles on public roads until it receives an autonomous vehicle testing permit,” the DMV wrote in a letter to Uber yesterday. “Any action by Uber to continue the operation of vehicles equipped with autonomous technology on public streets in California must cease.”
Brian Soublet, the DMV's chief legal counsel, held a conference call with reporters after Uber's announcement of self-driving cabs. According to him, the DMV has warned Uber a month ago that it needs a permit for its operation, and did so again the day before the official launch of the self-driving Volvos. Uber did nothing to acquire such a permit, though.
And just like with any other legal controversy Uber's created, the company claims that it's in the right. According to Anthony Levandowski, vice president of self-driving technology at Uber, there is a “debate over whether or not” the company needs a permit. “We have looked at this issue carefully and we don't believe we do,” Levandowski continued.
We wouldn't call it a debate, considering the DMV has repeatedly told Uber it needs a permit. We think the correct term here would be “law”. Uber doesn't seem to be fazed by the DMV's warnings, though, as the self-driving Volvo SUVs are still on the streets.