Uber’s self-driving car is apparently illegal in its’ home state of California. The company is violating the law by operating its autonomous Volvo SUVs in San Francisco.
Uber is breaking the law because it lacks the proper permits to operate self-driving vehicles in California, the Associated Press reported. The vehicles are currently picking up passengers in San Francisco. According to Uber’s blog the vehicles are picking up UberX passengers that request a self-driving vehicle.
The ride-sharing service claims that it does not need special permits for the Volvos because it has backup drivers behind the wheel. Its’ lawyers claims that Uber’s cars don’t meet the state’s definition of an autonomous vehicle because they need a human driver. The California State Transportation Agency (CSTA) disagrees.
It is not clear if Uber will face any penalties for this but the company is in negotiations with the CSTA; although it might end up in serious legal hot water if the cars keep rolling.
“If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action,” DMV Chief Counsel Brian Soublet wrote in a letter to Uber.
San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and a number of other officials blasted Uber. Lee claimed the self-driving Ubers are a threat to pedestrians and bicyclists.
Backlash against Technology
It looks as if the long anticipated backlash against self-driving cars has begun in San Francisco. Tech is controversial in the city on the Bay because of the income inequality being generated by Silicon Valley.
Interestingly enough Uber is not facing any controversy in Pittsburgh where the autonomous cars have been on the road for several months. One reason for that is Pittsburgh’s political climate has not been skewed by hostility to technology companies.
Being driven out of San Francisco would be a huge defeat for Uber because its headquarters is just across the Bay in Oakland. One reason for this test might be to force California to permit testing of self-driving vehicles on the open road.
Several states including Pennsylvania, Arizona, Nevada and Florida allow just that. One has to wonder why Uber did not simply test its vehicles in those places.
It looks as if Uber has once against itself in the middle of political controversy. One has to wonder if that’s a wise move for a company that lost $1.27 billion during the first half of 2016.
Uber could lose $1.5 billion next Year
Uber’s losses next year will be around $1.5 billion Travis Bogard, the company’s global head of enterprise admitted to CNBC. Bogard made the admission while discussing “Uber for Business” an effort to expand the company’s corporate sales and expand its competition with rental car companies.
Uber for Business has attracted some big time customers including Goldman Sachs, (NYSE: GS), Accenture and Salesforce. The long term hope is that the program will become a much needed source of revenue for Uber.
It might also be a hard sale because Uber for Business customers are already the subject of controversy. British Uber drivers are already picketing Salesforce’s London office, Business Insider reported.