Uber says to seek permit to restart self-driving pilot in California

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By Heather Somerville | SAN FRANCISCO

SAN FRANCISCO Uber Technologies Inc said on
Thursday it plans to comply with California regulations and seek
permits to put its self-driving cars back on the state’s roads,
an about-face following the company’s legal spat with state
officials in December.

Two of Uber’s autonomous cars are already wheeling around
San Francisco, but they are being driven manually while the
company is “taking steps to complete our application to apply
for a DMV testing permit,” an Uber spokeswoman said.

The California’s Department of Motor Vehicles confirmed it
has held discussions with Uber to assist the company in applying
for the self-driving testing permit. Uber has not formally
submitted the application, DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez
said.

Acquiring the proper permit would allow Uber to restart its
self-driving pilot in San Francisco, which was shuttered after
just a week late last year.

The state DMV requires that any company testing autonomous
vehicles on public roads receive a permit. At least 23 other
companies exploring self-driving cars, including Alphabet’s Google, Tesla Motors and Ford Motor Co,
have obtained California DMV permits.

But Uber defied those rules in December, attempting to
launch a self-driving pilot program in San Francisco without a
permit. Uber argued that its cars were not capable of driving “without … active physical control or monitoring,” as
California law defines autonomous vehicles, so did not require a
permit.

Uber’s cars require monitoring by a person in the driver’s
seat. An engineer also sits in the passenger seat.

The pilot was short-lived. The DMV revoked the registration
of 16 Uber self-driving cars for lacking the proper permits a
week after Uber put them on the road. The California Attorney
General also warned Uber it would take legal action.

Immediately after the DMV revoked Uber’s car registrations,
Uber put its self-driving fleet on trucks and brought them to
Arizona, where companies are not required to obtain any special
permits for self-driving cars.

Those cars have not been moved to San Francisco, Uber said
Thursday.

The San Jose Mercury News reported Uber’s plan to apply for
a state permit earlier Thursday.



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