The California DMV has negative comments about Uber’s plan to begin operating self-driving test vehicles to commuters in the San Francisco area. The self-driving car program is being promoted as a safer alternative than people driving themselves, since an overwhelming number of car accidents in California and across the country are caused by human error. The DMV, however, has put a roadblock in front of the self-driving car program, highlighting the complex legal and regulatory issues surrounding autonomous vehicles.
The major ride-hailing company Uber has failed to get the appropriate $150 permit from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles that would require the company to provide performance and accident data in order to operate their fleet of vehicles in the state of California.
While Uber and Lyft have picked up traction in major cities where people want access to numerous kinds of transportation options, the self-driving car program has not been deployed long enough for most people, including regulators and government officials, to feel comfortable with it.
According to an agency representative, the California DMV is responsible for responsibly exploring self-driving cars and therefore uses their permitting process to ensure that public safety is paramount. According to them, more than 20 manufacturers have already obtained the appropriate permits to test hundreds of self-driving cars across California roads and believe that Uber should be no different.
Many private citizens are still concerned about whether or not these vehicles are appropriately safe. A recent accident involving a self-driving car in Florida, for example, has regulators wondering whether or not all the testing protocols are comprehensive enough to give an accurate portrayal of the safety of autonomous cars.
Uber argues that they don’t need a permit for this test service so long as every vehicle does have a human behind the wheel at all times capable of stepping in and taking control of driving conditions. According to California law, however, autonomous vehicles are defined as those having the capability to drive without the monitoring or active physical control of a natural person.