Its cars have a driver and an engineer seated in the front seats of the car, ready to take over whenever the situation so requires.
Despite facing a backlash from regulators in the state of San Francisco, Uber Technologies Inc., has proceeded with its rollout of launching a fleet of self-driving cars in its hometown of San Francisco.
State authorities have insisted that Uber will need a permit to keep its vehicles on the road.
Authorities from the California Department of Motor Vehicles have sent a letter to Uber demanding that the company “cease the operations” of its autonomous cars until it applies and receives the testing permit required by law for the state.
Uber has responded to the order stating that it does not need the permit since its fleet of cars have a person which constantly monitors it and can take over control of the wheel at any time.
“For us, it’s still early days and our cars are not yet ready to drive without a person monitoring them,” said Uber in a company blog post.
This incident is the latest in a series of spats between regulators and Uber.
While twenty other companies, who have delved into the intricacies of self-driven autonomous, automated cars, including, Google, Tesla and Ford Motors, have all applied and obtained a DMV permit, Uber has not.
Incidentally, Uber’s self-driving cars have been seen around San Francisco since at least September.
In their letter, regulators have warned that it “will initial legal action” if “Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit.”
California law defines self-driving autonomous vehicles as vehicles which have the “capability” to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.”
Uber has argued that its cars falls outside of this definition since its cars are equipped with a driver and an engineer who are seated in the front seat, ready to take over control of the situation in zones such as pedestrian crossing, construction zone or when the car takes a left turn across a lane of traffic.
“All of our vehicles are compliant with applicable federal and state laws,” said a spokeswoman from Uber.
In its company blog post, Uber also called on regulators to take a more “pro-technology” approach to regulating autonomous cars.
“Several cities and states have recognized that complex rules and requirements could have the unintended consequence of slowing innovation,” said Uber.
“Our hope is that California, our home state and a leader in much of the world’s dynamism, will take a similar view.”