Uber caves after DMV gives its self-driving cars the death blow in California

The California DMV has revoked the registration of Uber’s 16 autonomous vehicles Wednesday, forcing the company to shut down its self-driving pilot program in San Francisco.

“It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles,” the DMV wrote in a letter to Uber on Wednesday.

The DMV’s revocation of the vehicle registrations on Wednesday gives the California regulators the upper hand and settles the argument between the two in favor of the state. Now Uber will have to submit to the state’s self-driving vehicle regulations or find a different place to test them not in California.

“We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars. We’re now looking at where we can redeploy these cars but remain 100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules,” Uber said in a statement.

Uber launched a new self-driving car pilot last week, similar to the program it’s already running in Pittsburgh. But it didn’t obtain the proper license from the DMV that is required by all self-driving carmakers.

Uber and the California DMV immediately started trading barbs over whether or not its car program should be permitted under California regulations. The DMV put out a statement saying that Uber “shall” get the permit to test its self-driving vehicles on public roads, but the company told Business Insider at the timethat it had no plans whatsoever to apply for a permit since it didn’t believe its cars fit the state’s definition of autonomous vehicles.

Under the regulations, advanced autopilot systems, like Tesla’s, are not regulated whereas Google’s testing of its autonomous vehicle adheres to strict rules.

Here’s the letter DMV sent to Uber:

“Consistent with the department’s position that Uber’s vehicles are autonomous vehicles, the DMV has taken action to revoke the registration of 16 vehicles owned by Uber. It was determined that the registrations were improperly issued for these vehicles because they were not properly marked as test vehicles. Concurrently, the department invited Uber to seek a permit so their vehicles can operate legally in California.

California’s testing regulations for autonomous vehicles strikes a balance between protecting public safety and embracing innovation. These regulations were adopted two years ago, and they are working for the 20 manufacturers now testing more than 130 autonomous vehicles on California’s streets and roads. Uber is welcome to test its autonomous technology in California like everybody else, through the issuance of a testing permit that can take less than 72 hours to issue after a completed application is submitted. The department stands ready to assist Uber in obtaining a permit as expeditiously as possible.”