Uber changes its mind and decides to apply for a California self-driving car permit


Uber self-driving Volvo SUV


Uber is working to get its self-driving cars back on the road in California.


The ride-hailing company says it's currently running two Volvo self-driving cars in San Francisco in manual as it prepares its application for the self-driving testing permit. That's in addition to the mapping cars, which have been back in California since January.

"These cars are legally registered and are being driven manually. We are taking steps to complete our application to apply for a DMV testing permit," an Uber spokesperson said. "As we said in December, Uber remains 100 percent committed to California."

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The decision to apply for a permit is an about-face from Uber's stance in December.

The ride-hailing company had launched its self-driving car pilot to much fanfare in San Francisco, only to find itself immediately in a fight with the California DMV over the proper permits.


At the time, Uber was adamant that the autonomous vehicle permitting did not apply to the company. "We have looked at this issue carefully and we don't believe we do [need a permit]," Uber's head of self-driving, Anthony Levandowski, wrote in its blog post the day of the launch.

Uber then argued in a conference call with reporters that its cars are more aligned with electric car maker Tesla's autopilot feature - an advanced driver assistance system, but not a car that's fully autonomous - to again make the point that these self-driving permits weren't applicable to its technology.

"The problem is that it doesn't apply to us. There's no reason to get regulations," Levandowski said at the time. "You don't need to get belts and suspenders or whatever else if you're wearing a dress."

While it says it's always been committed to California, Uber's response to the DMV revoking all of its car registrations was to publicly pack up its self-driving cars and put them on its self-driving truck and take them away to Arizona.

Yet, nearly two months later, Uber is back trying to make the relationship work. The company originally looked like it was going to sit it out and wait for California regulations to turn in its favor. It's clear now that Uber has changed its mind and decided to apply anyways so it can restart its self-driving car pilot.


"Uber hasn't formally submitted their autonomous vehicle tester program application, but just as we would with any other manufacturer, the DMV is providing assistance with the steps necessary to apply for and receive a test permit," California's DMV told Business Insider in a statement.