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Uber Gets OK to Test Autonomous Vehicles on California Roads

Uber plans to conduct autonomous vehicle tests in San Francisco, the headquarters city for the 11-year-old company that sparked a transportation revolution with the introduction of app-based ride hailing.

by Tony Bizjak, The Sacramento Bee / February 6, 2020
Uber announced it is exiting the self-driving truck technology business. (Rodger Mallison/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/TNS) TNS

(TNS) — Uber, the international rideshare company, has gotten approval from California regulators to test self-driving cars on state roads, company officials announced Wednesday.

Uber officials said they intend to conduct autonomous vehicle tests in San Francisco, the headquarters city for the 11-year-old company that sparked a transportation revolution with introduction of app-based ride hailing.

The company employs independent drivers, but its business model long has anticipated fleets of autonomous vehicles at some future point. The company previously tested its autonomous cars in San Francisco, but was forced by state officials to shut the program down until the state could come up with safety standards.

“San Francisco is a great city to gather key learnings for self-driving technology given it’s complex and ever changing environment,” Uber said in a statement Wednesday. “While we do not have an update as to exactly when we’ll resume autonomous testing, receiving our testing permit through the California DMV is a critical step towards that end in Uber’s home city.”

More than 60 companies now have gotten state Department of Motor Vehicles approval to test driverless cars. Under state regulations, those cars will have a trained employee in the driver’s seat to take control of the test vehicle.

Uber was previously testing autonomous cars, but backed off when one of them was involved in 2018 in a fatal crash in Arizona.

The tests will be conducted in cars that are not in service picking up passengers. According to the DMV, Uber must obtain a separate permit from the California Public Utilities Commission in order to carry passengers in autonomous cars.

DMV officials issued a statement Wednesday saying it is overseeing testing, via regulations, to maintain safety.

“Uber fulfilled all the requirements to receive a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California with a safety driver behind the wheel,” the state said. “The company also presented additional documentation detailing changes made to their autonomous vehicle safety program and testing protocols, which the DMV took into account when evaluating the permit application.

©2020 The Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, Calif.). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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