February 6, 2020 12:00 PM, EST

Uber Gets OK to Restart Autonomous Car Testing in California

An autonomous Volvo under development by Uber on display in Pittsburgh in March 2019.An autonomous Volvo under development by Uber on display in Pittsburgh in March 2019. (Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press)

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Uber has been granted permission from California regulators to test self-driving cars on state roads, the ride-sharing company announced Feb. 5.

Officials said they intend to conduct autonomous vehicle tests in San Francisco, the headquarters city for the 11-year-old company that sparked a transportation revolution with the introduction of app-based ride hailing.

The company employs independent drivers, but its business model long has anticipated fleets of autonomous vehicles. The company previously tested its autonomous cars in San Francisco but was forced by state officials to shut the program down until the state could come up with safety standards.

“San Francisco is a great city to gather key learnings for self-driving technology given its complex and ever-changing environment,” Uber said in a statement Feb. 5. “While we do not have an update as to exactly when we’ll resume autonomous testing, receiving our testing permit through the California DMV is a critical step towards that end in Uber’s home city.”

RoadSigns: A Transport Topics podcast

In part one of a two-part exploration of autonomous technology today, our latest RoadSigns podcast revisits conversations with CEOs Alex Rodrigues of Embark and Cetin Mericli of Locomation. Hear them explain what testing automated trucks and developing platooning technology has taught them about the road ahead — and get new perspective with host commentary. Listen to a snippet from Rodrigues above, and to hear the full episode, go to

More than 60 companies have received state Department of Motor Vehicles approval to test driverless cars. Under state regulations, those cars will have a trained employee in the driver’s seat to take control of the test vehicle.

Uber was previously testing autonomous cars but backed off when one of them was involved in 2018 in a fatal crash in Arizona.

The tests will be conducted in cars that are not in service picking up passengers. According to the DMV, Uber must obtain a separate permit from the California Public Utilities Commission to carry passengers in autonomous cars.

DMV officials issued a statement Feb. 5 saying it is overseeing testing, via regulations, to maintain safety.

“Uber fulfilled all the requirements to receive a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California with a safety driver behind the wheel,” the state said. “The company also presented additional documentation detailing changes made to their autonomous vehicle safety program and testing protocols, which the DMV took into account when evaluating the permit application.

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