17 December, 2016
The ride-hailing company is refusing to obey demands by the state's Department of Motor Vehicles that it stop picking up San Francisco passengers in specially equipped Volvo SUVs. That's one reason why companies have gravitated toward testing in states that have no laws regarding autonomous operations on the books-for instance, Google recently deployed a vehicle without traditional controls in Austin, Texas, Otto tested self-driving trucks in Colorado, and Uber conducted the first phase of its XC90 pilot project in Pittsburgh.
Uber may be known around the world for its ridesharing service, where volunteer drivers earn money by offering rides.
Following an autumn launch in Pittsburgh, the ride-sharing firm this week dispatched a fleet of Volvo XC90 self-piloted cars in The Golden City, available to folks requesting an UberX.
The company said because the cars use a human operator, they do not meet the definition of "autonomous". The state has permitted 20 companies, including Google, to test 130 AVs on public roads. He referenced the possibility of taking Uber to court.
Uber, which has not been hesitant to confront municipal and state officials elsewhere, anticipated the DMV's announcement in its news release announcing the program. "We have looked at this issue carefully and we don't believe we do", the company said, saying that it would not operate any differently in San Francisco than it has in Pittsburgh, glossing over the fact that Pittsburgh, Pa., is not in the California DMV's jurisdiction.
Levandowski's blog post included an oft-repeated tech industry argument about rules stifling innovation and even a veiled hint that California could be hurting itself.
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In addition to the much-publicized video from yesterday morning, embedded below, a former Business Times reporter tweeted that she saw an autonomous Uber run a red light on Van Ness Avenue.
It said: "Several cities and states have recognised that complex rules and requirements could have the unintended effect of slowing innovation". Pittsburgh, Arizona, Nevada and Florida in particular have been leaders in this way, and by doing so have made clear that they are pro technology.
However this has not lacked controversy, with California regulators arguing Uber requires a permit to keep the automobiles on the road.
"What is Uber's end game?"
A video was uploaded to YouTube that shows one of Uber's modified vehicles running a red light. The screen also shows you a simplified version of what the autonomous auto itself 'sees, ' displaying on a white background color-coded point- and line-based rudimentary versions of the objects and the world surrounding the vehicle. Taken by a Luxor Cab dash cam and first reported by the Examiner, the video shows the distinctive vehicle driving through a crosswalk on Third Street near SFMOMA about 3 seconds after the light turned red. Before accepting the trip via the app, the customer will be able to choose whether they want to use the autonomous auto or would rather use a standard vehicle.
On Thursday, Uber said in a written statement that the driver was suspended and attributed the infraction in front of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art to "human error".