back to article Uber's self-driving cars get kicked out of SF, seek refuge in Arizona

The California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) on Wednesday revoked the registration of 16 self-driving Uber vehicles, sending a signal to the regulation-averse startup that the agency is not to be publicly defied. Privately, it appears to be a different matter. Uber's subsidiary Otto has been, by its own admission, testing …

  1. Snowy

    Or more likely

    <quote>The DMV's decision to revoke vehicle registrations rather than seeking an injunction in court suggests lack of confidence in its legal position. Perhaps there's some merit to Uber's argument that the way state law defines autonomous vehicles is vague.</quote>

    It makes little sense to waste time and cost of the courts when you have your own powers remove the vehicles from the road.

    On Ubers side if Taxi and Limousine Commission (TLC) wanted to combat driver fatigue then start time, end time and miles driven each trip would makes more sense than where the trip started and where it ended.

    1. kain preacher

      Re: Or more likely

      "than where the trip started and where it ended." That's uses with time to tell if they are speeding.

  2. ecofeco Silver badge

    The more I hear about Uber...

    ... the less I like these scumbags.

    I've been reading more about them from drivers as well. The fuckery is rampant. Drivers have been seeing rate per mile cuts. Maybe this is old news to some of you, but I just found out this week.

    Have you heard about the new lawsuit? An engineer is suing for breach of contract over stock option swaps. Swaps not authorized in his contract.

    Uber bastards is more like it.

    1. The Man Who Fell To Earth Silver badge

      Re: The more I hear about Uber...

      Uber's business model is basically the most abusive variation of the sharecropper model. In Uber's case, the sharecropper (driver) takes on all the capitalization risk, all the operational risk (including profitability) and all the liability risk (if the car is in an accident), while Uber skims the cash flow regardless of the sharecroppers profit or loss. So it should be no surprise that violating the Law is also part of Uber's business model, since they have been violating taxi laws all over the world for quite some time.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The more I hear about Uber...

      I can't stand the company, mainly for the way it's trying to get laws and regulations changed to fit its business model, which would then give it an unfair advantage over conventional players.

      But I personally dislike them, due to my experience of providing support to their infrastructure bods. Rude and arrogant probably sums them up, yet they've got some of the flakiest networking I've ever seen at that level. I'd expect much better from such a belligerent upstart.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    That is all.

  4. Oengus Silver badge

    Does Uber support its own service??

    Did they get an Otto autonomous truck to take the Uber (not so) autonomous cars to Arizona?

    1. Ian Michael Gumby

      Re: Does Uber support its own service??


      The truck required special mapping of the route. So the haul from SF to AZ not possible.

      Having said that... The roads in Phoenix and Scottsdale are well laid out and marked. Easy for Cameras and LIDAR, etc ... to position on the road. (GPS maps snap to grid (road link)) .

      The only time roads are going to be a challenge is during or just after a heavy rain.

      So it will be interesting to see what happens.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Does Uber support its own service??

        So it will be interesting to see what happens

        Well, the fuse is well and truly lit on this time bomb. Watch all the agencies fall over themselves to condemn Uber after someone gets killed. But only then.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Uber acts in the interests of Privacy

    "We have an obligation to protect our riders’ data, especially in an age when information collected by government agencies like the TLC can be hacked, shared, misused or otherwise made public, History has shown that large data sets can often be de-anonymized and/or linked to other data sets."

    ....The problem with that is some of us still remember Uber's creepy one-night-stand analysis along with hunting-down whistleblowers and critics using 'God-mode'. 'You People Are So Interesting'... No, its you Uber executives that are so interesting... Now, would you please fuck off and die:

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Uber acts in the interests of Privacy

      Not forgetting, of course, that Uber, Lyft and friends are acting as taxis, and according to the article, "These data points are already collected with taxis",. so if people are already happy with the existing taxi data collection arrangement, where's the problem with including Uber, Lyft and friends in the same system?

      So, are Uber only fighting on behalf of their own system of hire or are they fighting for the principle, in which case are they challenging the existing rules for taxi data collection too?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Uber acts in the interests of Privacy

      Indeed, Uber claiming to act in the interest of customer privacy is about as laughable as Google's allusions to such.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  6. JimC

    Or alternatively

    > see saddling Uber with regulations as a way to level the playing field.

    could be written as

    "see no reason why Uber shouldn't be saddled with exactly the same regulations as they are"

  7. This post has been deleted by its author

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    As an cynical Arizonan

    If our current governor is involved then know its not in the public's interest. All the guy cares about is cutting taxes on the rich and funding private prisons instead of public schools (being 49 out of 50 states in education funding his one token action was to raid the state trust fund for education funding now to rob the grandkids later). Or in other words your classic Republican.

    1. johnnymotel

      or this version?

      Tell me, is it true that the private prisons have in their contract that private prisons can only be profitable at 98% capacity? Hence the three strikes law.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: or this version?

        Not sure about that but wouldn't surprise me. 3 strikes law is more California I thought. Though Arizona is the birthplace and still spiritual home of private prison industry. I do know that the private prison industry through ALEC wrote the legislation that became SB1070 (Arizona decided it was going to enforce federal immigration law and the courts said uh no you aren't, always tax payer money for lawsuits to score political points but never for schools or social services, but at least people finally got smart and kicked dumbass Sheriff Joe to the curb). They wanted to make lots of money storing immigrants who have far less rights and much less due process like cord wood. Its not unusual to hear about someone spending three years in detention before they ever get their immigration status resolved (Obama got rid of private federal prisons for US citizens but DHS got to keep them for the immigrants).

        1. kain preacher

          Re: or this version?

          It's little bit more complicated than that. Any local police can enforce immigration laws if they have a valid reason to suspect some his here illegally. What they do is hold you till ICE comes. What Sheriff Joe was doing is assuming all Mexicans are illegal and making them carry papers to prove that they were not. So every time they stopped a Mexican they said prove you are here legally. The DOJ said you have to have a valid reason to suspect they are here illegally not based on race alone. The DOJ said stop he did not. The DOJ get federal writ and he still did not. The DOJ then went to federal court and said have joe tossed for criminal contempt

          1. asdf

            Re: or this version?

            >The DOJ then went to federal court and said have joe tossed for criminal contempt

            And the voters finally got smart (or more likely the voting Hispanic population finally outnumbered the snowbirds in Maricopa county.) and made jail much more likely, that is until our new president pardons him the day he is sentenced. SB1070 went far beyond simply allowing local law enforcement to detain people suspected of being in the country illegally as this is about the only provision the courts actually left intact.

  9. Nate Amsden

    maybe uber should move to AZ too

    if AZ is so friendly maybe Uber should take their employees there too.

    Glad that they were held to the rules in one case though. What I'll perhaps never understand is why they didn't just register. I mean with the amount of cash they are burning they don't need the revenue from those self driving cars picking up people. Just drive them around the city and simulate such activity, they could even launch wads of (1? 5? 10? more?) dollar bills out the window every now and then to attract attention.

    Maybe Uber will finally implode some day that would be a good day for me.

    I don't ride taxis often, few times a year generally(in the U.S. I either drive where I am going to or rent a car at destination), to-date I do not recall a negative taxi experience (typically I book them(by phone) at least 6 hours in advance so maybe that is part of it).

  10. EveryTime

    There is a lot of anti-Uber sentiment here. I think that interferes with the analysis of the situation.

    I suspect that Uber actually didn't need the special autonomous vehicle permit. The engineers were correct in the assessment that it wasn't required because they really have something much less than a self-driving car. They have an ADAS system with map following, and perhaps traffic signal detection.

    However the PR has been heavy on their self-driving-car future. Their limited capability has been exaggerated into something that is far more advanced. Why? General publicity? Probably not. It's likely entirely for investor relations.

    Uber needs more cash. Their existing business model has cost a lot to build, and has largely succeeded where it can. Growth is slowing because of the bad publicity and the city-by-city legal battles. To motivate another investment round they need to show a profitable growth path. What better way than to claim that they are already using self-driving cars in a beta test? They can imply it's only funding that keeps them from finishing development and deploying a whole fleet of them.

    California just called their PR bluff. Harris started it because she is a political hack. The DMV leaped on it because they want to expand their power. (A whole new kingdom of high tech, rather than just stamping license plates and printing ID cards.) The city of SF needs to distract from their disfunction by blaming all problems on tech companies.

    Uber might unintentionally have just played this perfectly. Now everyone "remembers" that they had self-driving cars that were delivering fare-paying passengers in San Francisco, until they were kicked out for not paying for a permit. Not that they were mostly faking it, and a political power grab gave them cover to leave town before they were found out.

    For me personally, I'm disappointed that I didn't get a chance to take a ride and observe their real capability.

    1. Snake Silver badge


      "There is a lot of anti-Uber sentiment here. I think that interferes with the analysis of the situation.

      I suspect that Uber actually didn't need the special autonomous vehicle permit."

      No, Uber absolutely required a permit just as all the other companies currently testing autonomous vehicles in California do.

      Please examine the original article regarding the DMV complaint. Every other company with autonomous vehicles in California required a permit; Uber took the public position that it, somehow, was different than everyone else and therefore did not require one.

      So the CA DMV shut them down.

      :applause: Way to go CA DMV! Everyone else has to follow rules, I see absolutely no reason why having some money allows you special dispensation.

      1. graeme leggett

        Re: Schadenfreude

        Uber could have played it as a PR piece 'hey, you've heard bad things about us and regulations. <sad face> Trust us were regular kind of guys <insincere smile>. Now while we don't think the law requires us to have a permit we believe in working with local authorities <ignores dumbstruck look from journalists > so we'll get one so that we can continue without interruption to develop our paradigm and bring you ever cheaper rides, free energy, etc etc, ....'

        Cue smoozing with politicos and mingling with hacks around free bar.

        Trebles all round!

    2. ecofeco Silver badge

      Because they deserve it.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I don't pretend to know Californian law, but in the UK it would be dead easy.

      Police: Is it self driving?

      Uber: No we have a driver monitoring it.

      Police: So the driver is in full control with hands on wheel at all times?

      Uber: Errrr

      Police. Let us put it this way. If you say he doesn't need his hands on the wheel, it is self driving. If he does need his hands on the wheel, then he and all the other drivers will be prosecuted.

      Uber...errr it's the driver fault. Yes, drivers fault.

  11. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    Uber, which last week began offering rides in self-driving cars in San Francisco as an experiment, said it didn't need a permit to test its self-driving cars on state roads. It asserted that its self-driving cars don't qualify as autonomous vehicles under California law because they're operated under human supervision. Because fuck yeah, we're Uber!


    Uber doesn't have a viable business model. Just a lot of VC cash and an absurd market capitalisation based on promises and little else. Which results in a lot of pressure to come up with something that will transform theoretical value into real money. Plus a C-suite of people of the 'we-are-the-masters-of-the-universe' ilk; all ego and no skills. That's not the proper mix for building something new that actually works. So right now it's a scam using mob tactics.

  12. John G Imrie


    Otto, Otto that name rings a bell

  13. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

    Vampire link?

    Otto von Chriek is from Uberwald


    But at least statistically speaking, simply given population density, a self-driving Uber vehicle is less likely to hit a human

  14. Down not across

    Driver fatigue

    The TLC insists that it does not collect personal names, that location data would be at a neighborhood level rather than something more specific, and driver or vehicle license numbers would not be included.

    Well, if they're not collecting driver or vehicle numbers, how are they going to tie that into which driver is likely to be exceeding hours and hence be fatigued?

    As another poster already said, if the purpose is driver fatigue, then just collect information on start and stop times along with miles driven per driver.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "estimated loss of $800m on $1.7bn in revenue"

    WTF are they spending 2.5 billion per year on?

  16. Alistair Silver badge


    Uber's business model is "Rules don't apply to us".

    Sadly - VC's and some idiot that does valuations have bought the cowpattie.

    Insurance lawsuits that have been buried as far as possible will eventually repave that capital.

  17. JJKing

    Driverless Uber

    They want driverless cars so they can take the driver out of the equation and keep 100% of the fare. That would then put them in profit quick smart.

  18. kain preacher

    I looked at what it takes to get a permit.;CONVERT_TO=url&amp;CACHEID=f8eb6c00-6039-4e4c-82b0-2e9c4b18c38b

    Then you submit proof of insurance or self bond. It cost $150 to file. Makes you wounder are they really that arrogant or are they not caring proper insurance.

    As of December 8, 2016, DMV has issued Autonomous Vehicle Testing Permits to the following entities:

    Volkswagen Group of America

    Mercedes Benz


    Delphi Automotive

    Tesla Motors



    GM Cruise LLC




    Zoox, Inc., Inc.

    Faraday & Future Inc.

    Baidu USA LLC

    Wheego Electric Cars Inc.

    Valeo North America, Inc.

    NextEV USA, Inc.

    Telenav, Inc.

    NVIDIA Corporation

  19. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge




    Realising that both are composed of 4 letters, start with a vowel and have 2 vowels, what immediately came to mind was


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