The Uber self-driving cars have attracted a lot of attention from people all over the world since its announcement to hit the roads. But it seems that this venture is once again in the public eye for the wrong reasons. Apparently, the ride-hailing giant received a threat from the Attorney General of California which stated that Uber must halt its self-driving car project immediately.
Kamala Harris, the Attorney General of California threatened to take legal action against the company if it doesn’t stop the operation of self-driving cars on the roads of San Francisco on an immediate basis. A public letter was released on Friday shortly after Uber refused to follow the legal protocol of the country. The company might have to face legal consequences as it hasn’t acquired a permit to drive these self-driving vehicles. Apart from Uber, around 20 companies have already attained this permit.
In order to launch self-driving vehicles on the road, a company has to attain a $150 permit for doing so. But the Uber self-driving cars department claims that it will continue its self-driving cars test program in San Francisco without the permit. As a result of this, the Department of Motor Vehicles of California issued a notice to the company. Following this action, even the Attorney General intervened in the matter.
Why the Uber self-driving cars don’t require a permit
The legal team addressed the letter to Anthony Levandowski, Uber's automated vehicle team head. California’s highest legal office instructed Uber to adhere to the laws and remove its self-driving vehicles from the roads unless they attain a legal permit. This is in compliance with the regulations applicable to Uber’s self-driving cars. In case the company fails to do so, the Attorney General will soon take legal actions against the company.
In accordance with this, Levandowski argues that the state’s laws regarding autonomous vehicles are not applicable to them. This is because Uber has a human behind the wheel at all times to supervise the autonomous vehicle. He monitors as well as take over if circumstances become too challenging for the automated car. With respect to this, the cars aren’t fully autonomous; hence they don’t come under the criteria of the permit. Levandowski also says that the self-driving cars in San Francisco and Pittsburgh are not yet capable of driving without constant human monitoring. Also, the automated system will automatically disengage if the drivers keep the hands off the wheel for long time duration.
If Uber does not attain a permit, the Attorney General will seek injunctive relief along with the legal action. It is confusing that why Uber wants a legal fight which would cause massive expenditure. Instead, it could simply attain a $150 permit. The legal spat's current scenario is that the Uber self-driving cars are on the Californian streets without a permit. But the Department of Motor Vehicles is determined to take necessary action against it.