Uber self-driving cars hit the streets of San Francisco
Uber self-driving cars hit the streets of San Francisco In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, Anthony Levandowski, head of Uber's self-driving program, speaks about their driverless car in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
Uber self-driving cars hit the streets of San Francisco
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Uber is bringing a small number of self-driving cars to its ride-hailing service in San Francisco, a move likely to excite the city's tech-savvy population and certain to antagonize California regulators.
 
The launch in Uber's hometown expands a public pilot program the company started in Pittsburgh in September. The testing lets everyday people experience the cars as Uber works to identify glitches before expanding the technology's use in San Francisco and elsewhere.
 
California law, however, requires a test permit for self-driving prototype vehicles, and Uber does not have one. The company argues that the law doesn't apply because its cars require a human backup.
 
Uber has a history of testing legal boundaries. Although the company has been around less than a decade, it has argued with authorities around the world about how much of its drivers' histories should be covered in background checks and whether those drivers should be treated as contractors ineligible for employee benefits.
 
Uber's self-driving tests in San Francisco will begin with a "handful" of Volvo luxury SUVs - the company wouldn't release an exact number - that have been tricked out with sensors so they can steer, accelerate and brake, and even decide to change lanes. The cars will have an Uber employee behind the wheel to take over should the technology fail. Users of the app may be matched with a self-driving car, but can opt out if they prefer a human driver. Self-driven rides cost the same as ordinary ones.
 
The cars will be put to the test in the congested streets of San Francisco. Uber believes its technology is ready to handle all this safely, though its executives concede the vehicles are nowhere near able to drive without a human ready to take control in dicey situations.
 
There was room for improvement during a test drive attended by The Associated Press. The car was destined for a local pizza parlor, but didn't pull directly in front of the restaurant, and instead stopped in the middle of the street. The cars may strike some riders as over-cautious, too. During the test drive, one idled in a traffic jam even though an adjacent lane was clear, prompting the human driver to make the move himself.
 
Once testing is complete, the ultimate vision is to sell to the public technology which supporters argue will save thousands of lives because it doesn't drink, text, fall asleep or take dangerous risks.
 
Under state law, self-driving tests on public roads require a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles. The department has issued permits to 20 companies, mostly a collection of traditional automakers and tech companies - but not Uber.
 
Uber argues that its cars aren't really autonomous, and thus aren't covered by the law. Under the law, an "autonomous vehicle" requires a permit if it can drive itself "without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person."
 
According to Anthony Levandowski, the leader of Uber's self-driving program, Uber's cars simply aren't advanced enough to drive themselves without human monitoring. Therefore, the Volvos are not autonomous and do not require a permit.
 
In a statement, the DMV noted that 20 companies have permits to test hundreds of cars in California.
 
"Uber shall do the same," the statement said.
 
Operating without a permit arguably gives Uber a competitive advantage. Companies with one must report to the state all crashes and every instance in which a person takes control during testing. All that information is public. To receive a permit, a company must show proof of insurance, pay a $150 fee and agree that a human driver can take control of the vehicle.

Source URL: https://www.tweentribune.com/article/teen/uber-self-driving-cars-hit-streets-san-francisco/

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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Uber so interested in self-driving cars?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (99)
  • laurynhoy-dia
    1/11/2017 - 12:17 p.m.

    Because they want to invent a new kind of car where the driver doesn't actually drive.

  • jnyahp-bur
    1/11/2017 - 12:54 p.m.

    So that their customers will feel safer, a human can drink and text and really put others in danger, carelessly. I think they should just try for the permit!

  • jacindamichek-dia
    1/12/2017 - 08:42 a.m.

    if many get interested then more would want to start using ubers and with that they'll get more money.

  • jacksonschwartz-dia
    1/12/2017 - 08:44 a.m.

    Because its a new creation to the technology world and sooner or later these will be on only cars around.

  • savannaheath-dia
    1/12/2017 - 08:55 a.m.

    If people want to become mor4e interested in self driving cars, more people will want to use Uber. The more people interested the more money Uber will get.

  • braydinmehrman-dia
    1/12/2017 - 08:56 a.m.

    save more money cause you don't have to pay people to drive and its safer to have a self driving car.

  • trentmclemore1-dia
    1/12/2017 - 11:36 a.m.

    because

  • redamounir-dia
    1/12/2017 - 11:37 a.m.

    They run on electric so it makes them interesting because they are pretty much a computer but in a car.

  • mirandaf1-pay
    1/18/2017 - 08:11 a.m.

    Self-Driving Cars are fundamentally a bad idea. While the cars proposed by Uber do have a driver at the helm in case of a dangerous situation, soon the Car's autonomous settings will become so advanced that the cars won't need a human at the wheel, driving many people out of work; and riding up the already high unemployment rate in urban cities from the decreasing need of taxi cabs. Not only that, but the decision-making skills of a self-driving car may be warped to the robotic"thought process." The cars wouldn't take into account someone jay-walking or a dog on the street, and instead of having a reactional stop, they run over the aforementioned person/dog.

  • brianw-pay
    1/18/2017 - 08:11 a.m.

    They think that it will excite the population because, the world it becoming more advanced into technology. Plus, some people may want to ride in a car that's mainly driving itself to enjoy the experience.

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