California to Uber: Stop Your Self-Driving Cabs Right Now Or Else

By Hudson Hongo on at

Just hours after Uber launched a fleet of semi-autonomous cars in San Francisco, state regulators sent the company a letter saying it “must cease” the pilot program on Wednesday, threatening unspecified legal action if they do not, the Associated Press reports.

The California Department of Motor Vehicles has insisted that Uber needs an autonomous vehicle permit to operate the vehicles, something the company does not have. According to Uber, those rules don’t apply to the cars it rolled out this week, which cannot be driven without a human monitor in the front seat.

In theory, the human operators are there to intervene if needed, but a video has already surfaced of a vehicle appearing to be an Uber self-driving car running a red light. In its initial investigation, the company claimed the car involved was not part of the pilot programme and faulted a human driver for the incident.

“This incident was due to human error,” an Uber spokesperson told Buzzfeed Wednesday evening. “This is why we believe so much in making the roads safer by building self-driving Ubers. This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

Whether or not that’s true, it certainly can’t help as the company tries to make its case to the state.