As far as Uber is concerned, self-driving vehicles will replace human drivers in the not-too-distant future and the company is adamant to benefit from that technological advancement. Following that train of thought, Uber has been one of the largest investors in autonomous driving technology in recent years. After initially testing self-driving vehicles in Pittsburgh earlier this year, the company recently expanded its autonomous car program to its home turf, San Francisco. However, not long after that expansion took place, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) stated that the ride-hailing company is clearly violating the law by testing autonomous vehicles on public roads without a valid permit.
More specifically, Brian Soublet, DMV’s Chief Counsel asserted that Uber had to apply for an autonomous vehicle testing permit if it wanted to bring such cars to San Francisco roads. While Uber is arguing that its vehicles aren’t autonomous but only self-driving, the DMV clearly isn’t interested in arguing semantics, which is why the said state agency urged the ride-hailing company to cease all related activities until this situation is resolved. One week later, it seems that the two parties are now trying to settle this dispute. Namely, according to a recent report from the San Francisco Business Times, Uber’s lawyers are scheduled to meet with the DMV legal team and the California Attorney General’s office later today. Unfortunately, no further details on the said meeting were given, and none of the involved parties agreed to comment on this report.
Regardless of that, we can reasonably presume that Miguel Neri and Fiel Tigno, California Supervising Deputy Attorney Generals, will be attending the said meeting. This duo sent a letter to Uber last Friday, asking the company to either cease all testing of autonomous vehicles or face an injunction and related penalties. So, all in all, the said meeting is bound to be a tense one. It remains to be seen whether Uber will now be willing to play ball with state regulators or stick by its stance that it doesn’t require an autonomous driving vehicle permit to test self-driving vehicles on public roads in California. In any case, more information is expected to follow shortly.