Woah, we didn't see this one coming.
Uber has just admitted defeat in its battle with the state of California over its self-driving Volvo XC90s. An Uber spokesperson told CarBuzz via email that, "We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars. We're now looking at where we can redeploy these cars but remain 100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules." This news is shocking as the autonomous car testing program was launched only a week ago.
It's also shocking since the company isn't known for bending to the will of government agencies, both in the US and abroad. Uber seemed resolved to continue skirting the law, and it seemed nothing would stop them. Then the California DMV decided to bare its teeth. It threatened to "initiate legal action" against the company the day the pilot program was announced, a threat that sounded hollow at the time. Uber likely thought the DMV would keep complaining and mailing letters while its self-driving XC90s gathered valuable data on the streets of San Francisco. That's what we thought would happen. But in order for those cars to operate on the streets of SF they need to have current registration. Game, set and match, California DMV.
It sounds like Uber plans to relaunch its self-driving Volvos in the future. It'll need to file for a permit with the state of California before doing so, though. That's something it was reluctant to do in the first place due to some weird moral reasons/to avoid liability in the case of an accident. Whatever the real reason was it'll be interesting to see what the company's next move is. Other states now have a blueprint for beating Uber if it tries to jump the gun with autonomous car testing. Perhaps the company will move slower or try and cozy up with state and local governments before rolling out its next wave of robot-controlled cars?