Tech

Uber’s self-driving experiment in San Francisco is over, for now

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A week after Uber started offering self-driving car rides in San Francisco, the company halted the experiment.

The decision comes after failed negotiations with the state authorities, who have revoked Uber’s self-driving car registrations in California, the Associated Press reports.

“We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars. 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,” Uber told Venturebeat in a statement.

Dispute over permit rules

The dispute with the California DMV stemmed from a misunderstanding on whether Uber actually needs a permit to deploy self-driving cars. The company said that it didn’t, citing its similar pilot program which has been running for a few months in Pittsburgh, and pointing out their autonomous vehicles always have a driver ready to take over, but the regulator disagreed.

“The California DMV encourages the responsible exploration of self-driving cars  We have a permitting process in place to ensure public safety as this technology is being tested. Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits to test hundreds of cars on California roads. Uber shall do the same,” the DMV told Mashable last week.

And in a statement Wednesday, the DMV explained to Mashable why, exactly, Uber’s registrations were revoked

It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles.  Concurrently, the department invited Uber to seek a permit so their vehicles can operate legally in California,” the statement said.

Even though it was short-lived, Uber’s experiment with self-driving cars did not go without incident. A day after the pilot program started, a dash-cam video appeared to show a self-driving Uber car running a red light. But Uber later said that car was not a part of the self-driving pilot program.

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