Uber, Driverless Cars, and an Unhappy California DMV

Uber has shaken up the transportation industry by perfecting the business model of booking a ride from a fellow traveler. Really, those fellow travelers are people looking for full or part-time incomes through performing taxi services in the form of ride sharing. Out on the west coast, Uber is taking its business model to the next, futuristic level. The driver is being removed from the equation and replaced with an automated car. All of this is occurring to the great chagrin of the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

 

No, Uber is not going exclusively with driverless cars but the testing process is in motion. San Francisco is the city in which the testing has been extended. Testing originally debuted in the Pittsburgh area. And no, the officials in the city of San Francisco are not entirely thrilled with the presence of driverless cars on the roads. At least not without a permit.

 

Therein lies the issue of contention between Uber and the powers-that-be. Permits require certain qualifications to be met and fees to be paid. Both of those items do benefit the state of California. Uber, however, contends that autonomous vehicles — as the state of California refers to driverless cars — can be operated without a permit. Uber is going forward with keeping the cars on the road.

 

Uber’s rationale is based on the rules regarding the technology in Tesla vehicles. Uber’s stance is, since Tesla owner don’t need a permit, Uber’s autonomous cars won’t require a permit either.

 

Where is all this headed? Apparently, it is headed to court. The California DMV is threatening legal action. How that will play out in the state courts is anyone’s guess. A horrible-case scenario could lead to Uber and Tesla cars requiring permits. Tesla owners probably would be more than a bit annoyed at being an unfortunate third-party victim of a disastrous lawsuit. As others who have been in similar situations will attest – it happens.

 

Uber’s desire to launch self-driving cars is a bit odd. The company is already doing well as a ride sharing service. Why invite controversy and lawsuits? Clearly, the company feels there is a profitable benefit to going this route. Dragged out lawsuits do not exactly help profit margins though. Uber doesn’t seem to be backing down though.