Drive Wire for December 22, 2016: California Yanks the Registrations of Uber’s Self-Driving Cars

The ride-hailing company’s brief experiment with San Francisco autonomy comes to a halt.

byThe Drive Staff| UPDATED Jan 5, 2017 7:02 PM

Today on Drive Wire: California has revoked the vehicle registrations for Uber’s autonomous vehicles, effectively halting the ride-hailing company’s self-driving car test in the state.

Uber drew the attention of the California Department of Motor Vehicles last week, when the company announced it would begin running a fleet of its self-driving Volvo XC90 sport-utility vehicles in San Francisco starting immediately.

The state was quick to call foul, claiming Uber’s autonomous vehicles were in violation of state regulations because the company failed to acquire the proper permits to operate autonomous vehicles in California.

Uber countered that statement by claiming it did not need those permits, as its SUVs didn’t qualify as autonomous vehicles under the company’s interpretation of the law, and would always have a human directly supervising their operation.

But the DMV wasn’t buying it. So the state pulled the vehicles’ registration on a technicality, claiming they lacked the legally-required exterior markings to identify them as self-driving cars.

The state says it has invited Uber to apply for the proper permits, claiming it could take less than three days to approve them; Uber, for its part, says it is looking to see where it can redeploy its self-driving carsm, but adds that it is still “100 percent committed to California.”