Serious question for Uber: Will you ever learn to listen?
Uber ignored repeated requests from the California DMV to register its autonomous car program with the state—even as it was gearing up to roll out the service in San Francisco—according to email records obtained by The Verge.
The DMV pulled the cars’ registrations after Uber debuted the self-driving service. Uber killed the program in response and moved the cars to Arizona.
Anthony Levandowski, the vice president of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, claimed the cars always had a human monitor, and that they weren’t truly autonomous as a result. But California law stipulates that a vehicle containing self-driving technology should be registered as autonomous regardless.
Uber has a similar autonomous program in Pittsburgh, where the company hasn’t faced as many barriers. The official news release for that pilot program was cited in a post about the San Francisco project.
“This pilot is a big step forward,” the release said. “Real-world testing is critical to the success of this technology.”
That mention of “real-world testing” seems to contradict Levandowski’s statements to the California DMV. After all, what’s there to test if not the self-driving functionality?
An Uber rep had no further comment on the leaked emails, but pointed Mashable to a statement define the self-driving program from December. The California DMV did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This looks to be another case of Uber striking out into the market without much consideration for the potential consequences. The emails between Levandowski and the DMV aren’t revelatory—after all, Uber made a conscious decision to skip out on applying for the permit in the first place. But they do prove the company was ready to play by its own rules no matter what.
As the scandals surrounding the company continue to mount, only time will tell how much longer that business model can pay off.