Uber is now listed as one of the companies licensed to test autonomous vehicle technology in California. The ride-hailing provider originally launched a pilot of its self-driving Volvo XC90 SUVs in San Francisco last year, but picked up and moved the test to Arizona after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the registration on its cars because it had not secured a testing permit prior to launch.
The permit from the DMV does not mean Uber will restore its full pilot in SF — which included 16 SUVs with self-driving kit, offering service mixed in with the regular fleet, so that any user might get an autonomous test vehicle when hailing a ride with the UberX app. Instead, Uber’s self-driving car deployment will be limited to two of the XC90s, and 48 specifically named drivers are able to drive the cars, according to the San Francisco Examiner.
The conditions of the permit don’t forbid Uber from resuming its passenger pickups, but the company says it’s not going to be picking up riders as it begins testing again. The company’s tech came under fire in San Francisco during the initial launch when the test vehicles were caught running red lights — Uber said that the car pictured on video was actually human-driven at the time, but a New York Times follow-up report later said it was actually in autonomous mode at the time.
Uber originally held that it didn’t technically require one of the California DMV’s autonomous test vehicle permits to use its cars on public roads because of the nature of its tests and specifics of how it was implementing its technology. It revealed that it was working with the DMV to acquire its license last week, but its position regarding the technical legality of its original tests hasn’t changed according to the company, despite its willingness to now work with the state motor vehicle authority.