California and Uber’s Tricky Relationship

The well-known ride-sharing company, Uber, is making headlines again. After a struggle with the state of California, Uber notoriously packed its self-driving vehicles up and went to Phoenix, Arizona, setting up a location in addition to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for the company’s self-driving initiative. This time, it’s about the company’s return to California streets with self-driving cars.

Uber finally applied and received a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles that allows the testing of two Volvo SUVs on public roads. In addition, 48 backup drivers were approved by regulators, requiring them to sit behind the wheel in the event of a mishap with the autonomous vehicles.

When a State Means Business

The $150 permit seems to be an olive branch of sorts, resolving the issues from late 2016 when Uber introduced a pilot program of more than a dozen autonomous vehicles in San Francisco without consulting state regulators. While Uber claimed that its cars did not meet the state’s definition of “autonomous vehicles” because they need a person present to monitor the car in case an intervention is needed, legal authorities felt differently when faced with Uber’s malfunctioning AI. Without the permit, the state revoked the license of the 16 autonomous cars from Uber’s pilot program.

Uber is now the 26th company to hold a permit to test self-driving vehicles in the state of California. However, the company won’t be offering driverless rides just yet, and it’s not clear when passengers will be able to hitch a ride with one of them.