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

Uber had to halt its self-driving auto project in San Francisco in December, but now it's working to bring it back.

But Uber defied those rules in December, attempting to launch a self-driving pilot program in San Francisco without a permit.

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.

Uber rolled out a fleet of self-driving cars in San Francisco in January, but shut down the program a week later when the DMV revoked the vehicles' registrations and forced them off the road. Not surprisingly, the state didn't take kindly to being ignored, and demanded that Uber take the cars off the road until it had the right permit.

After initially reaching an impasse with the California DMV over the permit issue in December, Uber shipped much of its self-driving auto fleet to Arizona for testing.

This is an apparent about-face by Uber, which first deployed its self-driving cars in San Francisco to pick up passengers in December 2016 and refused to apply for the appropriate state permit.

The cars still need appropriate certificates before they can be officially registered in California, said DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez. At least 23 other companies exploring self-driving cars, including Alphabet's Google, Tesla Motors and Ford Motor Co, have obtained California DMV permits.

Uber's cars require monitoring by a person in the driver's seat. After the state attorney general threatened legal action if the company continued operating the automobiles without a permit, Uber started looking elsewhere. "As we said in December, Uber remains one hundred percent committed to California".

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

Uber on Thursday said while its interpretation of the technology has not changed, neither has the law - and this is the next step to move forward with the program.

  • Arturo Norris