Uber pulls self-driving cars from San Francisco streets

SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) -- Uber said Wednesday that it is parking its self-driving cars that had been operating on San Francisco streets for over a month after state regulators pulled the company's vehicle registrations.

The company has operated a similar pilot in Pittsburgh for the past three months. But in a written statement, the company said it is weighing its next steps after California regulators rescinded Uber's permits..

"We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars," an Uber spokesperson said via e-mail. "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."

News of Uber's decision came after the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the state Attorney General's office met Wednesday to discuss the pilot program. State regulators and city leaders have all raised questions about the operation of the company's autonomous cars on San Francisco streets.

DMV officials have said Uber had failed to obtain the permits legally required for testing autonomous vehicles and promptly issued a cease-and-desist letter, threatening legal action if the company did not comply.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee, who has been a long-time advocate of car sharing, ride sharing and driverless technology, said Wednesday that he fully expects all autonomous vehicle developers -- including Uber CEO Travis Kalanick -- to follow state and city laws.

"I think he should not be operating his driverless vehicle technology without that permit," Lee said. "Twenty other companies have not had a problem getting those permits."

Uber has argued that a permit is unnecessary because a human attendant is in the driver's seat. Before the company announced that it was halting its pilot program, Mayor Lee told KTVU that his administration was asking the city attorney about what enforcement powers city police have in the dispute.

A video posted on YouTube by user Charles Rotter, taken from the dashboard camera of a Luxor Taxi, allegedly shows one of the vehicles running a red light. Twitter user Annie Gaus also tweeted that she had seen a similar incident on Van Ness Avenue while riding in a Lyft vehicle.

Chris Koff, who runs AK Subs in San Francisco at 8th and Harrison streets, said he saw a self-driving Uber car run a red light.

"All of a sudden the car ran through the red light," Koff said. "It just took off. And there was a car that was coming down 8th Street that had to slam his brake, honk his horn and stop."

A video from another incident shows a driverless Uber running a red light, forcing a pedestrian to stop walking in the crosswalk in order to avoid being hit.

Said Koff: "Why do we have to rush this so fast? It seems that we're pushing this through in about a year from conceiving the idea of having driverless cars to having them actually operating."

KTVU reporter Tom Vacar contributed to this report.

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