Date
24 October 2017
Uber said it was not obligated to get a permit because its vehicles require continuous monitoring by a person in the car. Photo: Reuters
Uber said it was not obligated to get a permit because its vehicles require continuous monitoring by a person in the car. Photo: Reuters

Uber removes self-driving cars from San Francisco roads

Uber Technologies Inc. has removed its self-driving cars from San Francisco streets amid a regulatory crackdown.

“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,” Reuters quoted an Uber spokeswoman as saying in a statement.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) said on Wednesday it revoked the registration of 16 Uber self-driving cars because they had not been properly permitted.

For the last week, the department was demanding that Uber shut down its program and comply with regulations requiring a permit to test self-driving cars on public roads, the news agency said.

Uber said it was not obligated to have a permit because its vehicles require continuous monitoring by a person in the car.

San Francisco was supposed to be Uber’s second testing ground for its self-driving cars. The company unveiled its self-driving cars in September in Pittsburgh.

California defines autonomous vehicles as having the capability to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person”.

Uber has argued that the law does not apply to its cars, which cannot stay in autonomous mode continuously.

A driver and an engineer are in the front seats to take over frequently in sticky traffic situations such as construction zones or pedestrian crossings.

The DMV told Uber that if it had obtained a permit, the regulator would have given the green light to the self-driving pilot.

Another 20 companies exploring self-driving cars, including Alphabet’s Google, Tesla Motors and Ford Motor, have obtained California DMV permits for 130 cars.

On Thursday, Uber launched in Madrid its first fleet of electric cars, Reuters said.

In Spain’s capital city, as elsewhere, Uber’s service of matching private car owners with passengers has prompted anger among the heavily-regulated taxi sector.

The company hopes the introduction of cleaner cars will help improve its image in Spain’s capital city.

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CG

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