Shortly after starting the tests of its autonomous vehicle fleet in San Francisco, Uber had to stop the tests on order of the Californian DMV. Uber is refusing to apply for a license to test autonomous vehicles on public roads in California, which currently 20 companies have received.
Uber’s official position is that their cars are not autonomous vehicles in the regulator’s sense, and that they are more like driver assistance systems such as Tesla’s Autopilot, with a driver present at all time, and therefore don’t require a permit. After a meeting with the DMV Uber stopped its tests.
A test license itself costs 150 dollars and has very lenient terms. Companies have to show proof of a one million dollar insurance as well as proof that the cars have been tested 10,000 miles on test tracks, the drivers ave to be trained, crashes have to be reported, as well as an annual Disengagement Report sent to the DMV. A disengagement is when an autonomously driving vehicle hands over control to a driver. Although those are pretty easy terms Uber has refused to apply for a test license.
Now the firs spekulations came up on the reasons for Uber’s refusal. Among others Uber could try to keep its data secret to deny competitors insight in the state of development. Since Uber’s start of tests in San Francisco multiple reports have appeared on Uber cars running red lights or drivers having to slam into breaks to avoid crashes.
Also Uber’s history indicates its willingness to ignore regulations. The company occupies a whole army of lobbyists to influence regulators. That led to the creation of a special category of Transportation Network Provider instead of a taxi service that allows Uber to ignore certain taxi regulations.
Also noticeable is that not only Uber did not apply for a test license, but also not the autonomous truck startup Ot.to that Uber acquired in August. The list of license holders on the DMV website does not include Ot.to, although the company is testing its trucks on public roads.
Immediately after stopping its tests in San Francisco the governor of Arizona, Doug Ducey, tweeted and offered Uber to start tests in his state.