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DMV Orders Uber To Halt Self-Driving Cars In S.F. Even As Development Programs Ramp Up


Two Bay Area tech giants are speeding into the future of self-driving technology. Uber’s self-driving cars took to San Francisco’s streets this week, and Google parent company Alphabet officially spun off its self-driving unit, now called Waymo.

Uber already faces a challenge to the less than 10 self-driving cars it has in San Francisco. The DMV warned the ride-sharing company yesterday that it was operating illegally and would need to pull those cars until it got a permit, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The vehicles aren't completely autonomous. Uber engineers remain in the driver seats in case things get hairy, and Uber has argued that makes its cars exempt from the permits required for autonomous vehicles. The DMV disagrees.

Last week, the ride-sharing company bought Geometric Intelligence, a 15-person artificial intelligence startup focused on self-driving cars, and created the new Uber AI Labs division. Uber began testing self-driving cars, hybrid Ford Fusions and plug-in hybrid Volvo XC90s, as part of a pilot program in Pittsburgh earlier this year.


Waymo’s spinoff is a sign Alphabet believes self-driving technology is ready for commercialization, reports the New York Times. The new company will now be able to use infrastructure and resources from Alphabet.

Waymo chief executive John Krafcik told the Times the company’s technology could be used in ride-sharing services and long-haul trucking, but a specific strategy has not been worked out.

Tesla, Apple, General Motors, Volkswagen and BMW have also made moves toward developing driverless technology.

Real estate execs previously told Bisnow driverless technology will improve accessibility for many non-drivers as well as improve traffic, create better parking options and create more efficient uses of vehicles.