California’s Department of Motor Vehicles has erected a major hazard on Uber’s road towards autonomous vehicles. Registration for the rideshare company’s self-driving cars was revoked after citizens expressed safety concerns.
Uber’s pilot project to test autonomous cars lasted a single week before being challenged. On Wednesday, the company was forced to pull its self-driving cars off of San Francisco’s streets following several reports of cars taking dangerous and illegal right turns through bicycle lanes.
Uber launched its autonomous vehicle pilot project on December 14 and got off on the wrong foot with the DMV almost immediately. The project was unauthorized, as Uber had not requested the typical permits necessary to operate autonomous vehicles in California.
In response to Uber’s pilot project launch, DMV Director Jean Shiomoto released a strongly worded statement saying, “Uber is welcome to test its autonomous technology in California like everybody else, through the issuance of a testing permit that can take less than 72 hours to issue after a completed application is submitted.”
However, Uber defended its use of 16 self-driving cars by arguing that, unlike other companies that have permits to operate self-driving vehicles such as Google or Tesla Motors, their cars were not completely autonomous and still had a driver behind the wheel.
Bucking government regulations was an “important issue of principle” Uber claimed when it continued to operate its pilot despite being on thin ice with the DMV, California’s Office of Attorney General and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee.
Within hours of the launch, Uber came under fire after a video purportedly capturing an autonomous vehicle running a red light. Similar incidents were reported, but Uber wrote them off as “human error” and blamed the drivers for the mistakes. But other complaints, such as self-driving cars making dangerous right turns through bicycle lanes, continued until Wednesday when their permit was revoked.
“It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles,” the DMV said in a statement.
“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 said in a statement, according to the Verge.