In other news, Uber won't be going back to California, either.
The story of Uber’s permit to test autonomous vehicles in California is a saga unto itself. The company infamously began testing its self-driving cars in San Francisco in December 2016 in defiance of the DMV’s order for the company to obtain the permit. Uber refused, and the DMV revoked the licenses of its self-driving fleet. That prompted the company to move its testing operation to Tempe, where almost a year later, a pedestrian was killed while crossing in front of a self-driving Uber vehicle.
According to emails obtained by The Verge, Uber knew for months that its self-driving cars violated the state’s requirement that autonomous vehicles be licensed before operating on public roads. Yet, it still deployed its fleet of autonomous vehicles anyway, arguing that because they required a human driver to monitor the vehicle at all times, they did not legally meet the definition of an autonomous vehicle under the state’s law. The company did eventually conceded, obtaining a permit in March 2017.
Uber clearly wanted to avoid a political fight with the DMV that a permit renewal likely would have entailed. The agency is gearing up to begin issuing permits in April to companies wishing to test fully driverless vehicles on public roads without human safety drivers.
Asked whether that program was still going forward in the wake of the Uber crash, a DMV spokesperson said, “The DMV is allowed to begin issuing driverless testing and/or deployment permits on April 2, but that doesn’t mean a manufacturer will meet the requirements or if we will approve them.” In other words, Uber’s chances of receiving a permit were probably slim to none.