[Nfbmo] California tells Uber to shut down 'illegal' self-driving car service in San Francisco
gwunder at earthlink.net
Fri Dec 16 13:06:50 UTC 2016
What is so interesting about self driving cars is the unresolved issue about
whether they will be self driving or be self driving with a human backup.
Some of the companies involved in this research believe that it is unsafe to
rely on a human driver in the event that the computer guidance system has
difficulty. In the meetings I have been in the companies promoting these
vehicles say that you can't have it both ways: if a person is in a self
driving car, he or she will not pay attention to the road in the same way
that a normal driver would. They say that they are unequivocally opposed to
putting out systems that can do 95% of what needs to be done and relying on
human beings to fill the gap.
In the case of one company I have had the pleasure to work with, they
claimed that their vehicles had driven over 350,000 miles and that the only
accident recorded was when one of their vehicles was rear ended by another.
I think legislators and regulators need to think not only about the
technology but the psychology behind a self driving vehicle. Not only do I
want to one day be able to go from point X to point why without relying on
someone else, but I want the safety that can be a part of a computerized
system that is not distracted by a noise in the backseat, by trying to
rubberneck when going by a fire, or by trying to text and drive. These are
From: Nfbmo [mailto:nfbmo-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Daniel Garcia via
Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2016 8:41 PM
To: NFB of Missouri Mailing List (nfbmo at nfbnet.org)
Cc: Daniel Garcia
Subject: [Nfbmo] California tells Uber to shut down 'illegal' self-driving
car service in San Francisco
Uber expanded its self-driving car service to San Francisco on Wednesday,
but state regulators are calling for a halt. (Courtesy of Uber)
Not even a full day after Uber launched its self-driving service in San
Francisco did California regulators tell the company to shut it down.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles threatened legal action, telling
the company that it must first obtain a special permit to test autonomous
vehicles on the state's roadways.
Uber launched the service Wednesday morning and acknowledged at the time
that it might run afoul of state regulators. The company had declined to
obtain a permit on the grounds that its cars require human monitoring and
thus do not meet the state's definition of an autonomous vehicle, a
spokeswoman said early Wednesday.
The DMV disagreed. It called Uber's program illegal and demanded the company
cease operations until it received a permit that would require the company
to prove that it is financially responsible, has qualified drivers, and will
report collisions and other safety information to state regulators.
"These requirements serve to build public trust in the safety of the
technology and to foster confidence in allowing autonomous vehicles on
public streets," Brian Soublet, the department's deputy director and chief
counsel, wrote in a letter.
A spokeswoman for the company did not immediately respond to a request for
comment on the letter. Uber said earlier Wednesday that it hoped California
would see the merits of its self-driving vehicle program, including the
potential to improve traffic safety, and not create barriers to innovation.
"Pittsburgh, Arizona, Nevada and Florida in particular have been leaders in
this way, and by doing so have made clear that they are pro technology. Our
hope is that California, our home state and a leader in much of the world's
dynamism, will take a similar view," Anthony Levandowski, the head of Uber's
advanced technology group, wrote on the blog.
Uber began matching a small number of riders with vehicles that rely on
Uber's self-driving technology rather than human drivers on Wednesday
morning. Those vehicles still had a safety driver on board who can take
control if necessary, as well as a company engineer.
San Francisco is the second city in the country to officially test Uber's
service, which the company has said will be critical to the future of both
ride hailing and urban transportation. Uber first deployed self-driving
vehicles in Pittsburgh three months ago.
"With its challenging roads and often varied weather, Pittsburgh provided a
wide array of experiences. San Francisco comes with its own nuances
including more bikes on the road, high traffic density and narrow lanes,"
Levandowski wrote on the blog.
The rollout in San Francisco started with just a handful of self-driving
vehicles, and was expected to gradually scale up as more cars become
available, a spokeswoman said. Uber has a partnership with Volvo to provide
the company's self-driving vehicles, including the newly released XC90,
which comes equipped with a system of lasers and cameras for guidance.
Only users with a credit card tied to a San Francisco address are eligible
for the program. Those who are matched with a self-driving car will receive
an alert that allows them to learn more about the program or opt out, a
Uber is the second Silicon Valley company to make self-driving car news this
week. Google announced Tuesday that its self-driving car project would be
spun off into a separate company, called Waymo. The move is a sign that the
company intends to bring the technology to market, though an exact timeline
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