Uber says it will keep self-driving cars in San Francisco

San Francisco California. Uber's head of finance Gautam Gupta is reported to have told investors in a conference cal

San Francisco California. Uber's head of finance Gautam Gupta is reported to have told investors in a conference cal

Uber is failing to be a respectful civic partner to the city of San Francisco by choosing to put Uber's self-interest before the safety of the residents of their hometown.

"Had Uber obtained an autonomous vehicle testing permit prior to today, the company's launch would have been permissible". Hours after Uber launched the self-driving service Wednesday, Dec. 14, the DMV warned it was illegal because the cars did not have a special permit.

In a conference call with reporters convened late Friday afternoon, Anthony Levandowski, VP of Uber's Advanced Technologies Group, said the company would not be applying for the permit because it doesn't believe the regulations surrounding self-driving cars apply to its vehicles.

Levandowski argues that this definition doesn't apply to the Uber cars, claiming that the self-driving Volvos cannot operated without "active physical control or monitoring".

The leader of Uber's self-driving auto program says the ride-hailing service he launched this week in San Francisco will continue despite regulators' objections.

Because Uber's self-driving vehicles aren't fully autonomous-or, dare we say, fully "self driving"-the company refuses to pay for the California permit to test autonomous vehicles, which California regulators say it needs to do".

An Uber spokesperson said two red-light violations were due to mistakes by the people required to sit behind the steering wheel and said the company has suspended the drivers.

The state has threatened legal action.

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However, the company still intends to refer to the vehicles as "self-driving cars". "The problem is that (the regulation) doesn't apply to us".

Uber now is not working toward a vehicle that has no steering wheel, pedals or need for a human driver, Levandowski said.

Uber's position is that the semi-autonomous vehicle system it is testing here is really no different from current advanced driver assistance systems available now for owners of Teslas and other cars that help with parking and collision avoidance.

Autonomous, under the California vehicle code, means that a auto is equipped with technology that gives it the "capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator".

Officials with Uber and the state have talked several times this week in what the leader of the company's self-driving program described as "frank conversations".

That makes the pilot program sound less like a higher-level driver-assistance system and more like testing and development for autonomous cars, which is exactly what those permitted companies are doing.

"The legislation clearly defines what an autonomous vehicle is", Levandowski said.

It's hard to understand why the DMV would seek to require self-driving Ubers to get permits when it accepts that Tesla's autopilot technology does not need them. He added that Uber has asked the DMV how its technology is different than Tesla's, but had not heard back. "We have been safely driving self-driving Ubers in the same manner in Pittsburgh for months, where policymakers and regulators are supportive of our efforts", Levandowski said. It requested clarification from the DMV on that issue specifically.

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