After arguing that its cars did not require permits, Uber initially killed its California test program rather than comply with state DMV demands.California has apparently backed down from its showdown with California officials over permits for autonomous test vehicles.The company brought its fleet of autonomous Volvo XC90 crossovers to California late last year, widening a development program for autonomous hardware and software systems that could be used for a future driverless ride-hailing service.
The first signs of trouble surfaced almost immediately after dashcam footage showed one of the company's prototypes running a red light. A carefully worded statement placed blame on the human driver at the time. The company later clarified that the vehicle had been operating autonomously, suggesting the driver simply erred by failing to take over manual control in time.
A separate issue soon emerged when California officials claimed Uber was operating its test fleet illegally, lacking the necessary permits specifically created for autonomous prototype vehicles. Raising eyebrows, the company claimed its vehicles were exempt because they were not yet capable of operating fully autonomously.
The $150 permit price was clearly not a deal breaker. Such vehicles are subject to unique reporting requirements, however, forcing automakers to log accidents and 'disengagements' of the autonomous system when the human pilot intervenes.
Uber has now decided to capitulate and seek permits to restart its autonomous testing program in California, according to Reuters.
The report comes just one week after Google's self-driving car division, now known as Waymo, filed a lawsuit accusing Uber of stealing and replicating proprietary hardware used for autonomous vehicles. If the lawsuit is found to have merit, the dispute could represent a significant setback for Uber's self-driving initiatives.