Tech

Uber’s Self-Driving Cars Accused Of Running Red Light For Second Time, DMV Isn’t Happy

(Photo credit: ANGELO MERENDINO/AFP/Getty Images)

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Uber is not stopping its autonomous vehicle operations in San Francisco, even after the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) officially ordered the tech giant to do so.

Regulators at the DMV told Uber it needs a license since vehicles are believed to be using autonomous technology. “The attorney general will seek injunctive and other appropriate relief” if Uber doesn’t obtain a permit, a letter from the California’s Department of Justice read, reports the Associated Press.

The ride-sharing company first implemented autonomous vehicles into its services for the city Wednesday, according to the Associated Press.

Uber argues that it doesn’t need a special license because it is not yet using autonomous technology. (RELATED: Uber, Anheuser-Busch Use Self-Driving Truck To Deliver 45,000 Cans Of ‘America’)

“We respectfully disagree with the California Department of Motor Vehicles legal interpretation of today’s autonomous regulations, in particular that Uber needs a testing permit to operate its self-driving cars in San Francisco,” Anthony Levandowski, leader of Uber’s self-driving car initiative, said in a statement.

“The self-driving Ubers that we have in both San Francisco and Pittsburgh today are not capable of driving ‘without … active physical control or monitoring,'” the post continued (emphasis theirs). (RELATED: Uber Launching Driverless Cars In Pittsburgh Starting Today)

While engineers are not forced to directly have their hands on the steering wheel, the operators are on hand directly in the vehicle, according to Tech Crunch. (RELATED: Distracted Driving Is A Huge Problem, And Autonomous Cars Could Help)

Levandowski asserts the cars aren’t any different than a lot of others on the market that have assistance technology. He even cites another tech company’s employment of such.

“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 [permits],” he continued. (RELATED: Elon Musk Says Autopilot Death Probably Wouldn’t Have Happened With Latest Updates)

So far, in less than a week, there have been two reports of Uber’s reportedly self-driving cars running red lights in San Francisco. KRON4, a local San Francisco news station, received a video of a vehicle that is allegedly owned and operated by Uber illegally bypassing the traffic light. In a separate, but similar incident, another local news affiliate, WIAT42, acquired images on Sunday that potentially show a traffic infraction with Uber as the culprit.

These accounts, though, have not yet been thoroughly corroborated.

As autonomous vehicles become more embedded in the market and thus society, traffic violations stemming from computerized errors could grow as well. (RELATED: Lyft President: In 10 Years No One Will Own A Car In A City)

Uber has no plans to stop picking people up with its advanced cars, despite the state’s disapproval.

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