Uber Informed the California DMV Its Rules Don't Apply to Their Cars

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
uber informed the california dmv its rules dont apply to their cars

Uber Technologies Inc. have again ignored mandates from California regulators that the ride-services firm must apply for a permit to test self-driving cars, setting the table for a potential legal battle. Uber’s grounds for refusing to apply are that the autonomous vehicles are not quite self-reliant enough to warrant the paperwork.

Unveiled to the public on Wednesday, the company’s self-driving cars faced immediate criticism in San Francisco after news broke that one had breezed through a red light and another almost caused an accident. The general denunciation forced the California Department of Motor Vehicles to notify Uber to cease operations, to which it responded with a frank “no.”

“We respectfully disagree with the California Department of Motor Vehicles legal interpretation of today’s autonomous regulations,” Anthony Levandowski, vice president of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, said on a call with Reuters.

According to Levandowski, Uber’s test vehicles, which were promoted as self-driving, are not capable of being driven without a human occupant actively controlling the vehicle while an engineer monitors everything.

California’s DMV requires that any companies testing autonomous vehicles be evaluated and given a permit before testing begins. So far 20 other companies, including Ford, Google, and Tesla Motors, have managed to obtain permits for their test vehicles while Uber hasn’t even bothered to apply.

When asked if Uber was trying to avoid the mandatory accident reports permittees are required to give the DMV, Levandowski rejected the notion. “We think that’s a very important part of building trust and understanding,” he said. “The problem is that doesn’t apply to us.”

He then reminded reporters that test cars include a human driver that takes control in construction zones or areas with dense pedestrian traffic. Levandowski compared Uber’s self-driving system to Tesla’s Autopilot system and other semi-autonomous assistance features that are common on newer vehicles.

“This type of technology is commonplace on thousands of cars driving in the Bay Area today, without any DMV permit at all,” he said.

This current squabble is only the most recent between Uber and U.S. regulators. However, its current brazen noncompliance in California will likely force the company to face litigation over repeatedly failing to get the proper credentials. In a letter to Uber on Wednesday, the DMV’s chief counsel said the agency will take legal action if “Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit.”

[Image: Volvo]

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  • Bluegoose Bluegoose on Dec 19, 2016

    The state should yank the registrations and impound the Uber Self Driving cars for driving without a permit. Uber can sue to get them back. If they are in the right, they can resume driving. If they are in the wrong, they don't get the cars back until they have the proper paperwork.

    • Orenwolf Orenwolf on Dec 19, 2016

      That seems reasonable. Though expensive for taxpayers if the law as written makes it likely Uber will succeed in getting them back.

  • HotPotato HotPotato on Dec 19, 2016

    Instead of flaunting his oppositional-defiant disorder (common to many children these days), why doesn't Travis just go do his testing in Michigan, where apparently they just passed super permissive regs for self-driving cars? Michigan's going to be crawling with self-driving Chevy Bolts next year, why not some self-driving Uber Volvos?

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.