One of Uber's self-driving vehicles is seen during a test drive in San Francisco on Dec. 14. (Aleah Fajardo/Special to S.F. Examiner)

Uber halts self-driving car pilot in SF

Uber’s self-driving car saga in San Francisco has come to an end, for now.

The announcement that the ride-hail giant is halting its pilot of self-driving vehicles came minutes after the DMV announced late Wednesday afternoon that it revoked the vehicle registration of 16 self-driving Uber vehicles, and said they were “improperly issued.”

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“Concurrently, the department invited Uber to seek a permit so their vehicles can operate legally in California,” DMV wrote in a statement.

In an announcement released minutes later, an Uber spokesperson wrote, “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.”

In a letter to Davis White, Uber’s director of California public affairs, the California State Transportation Agency Secretary Brian Kelly wrote, “I want to reassure you that the California Department of Motor Vehicles stands ready to work with you collaboratively.”

He sent them the web link to apply for a permit, and wrote he would “personally help” ensure Uber an expedited review and approval process.

On Friday, the state Attorney General’s Office threatened Uber with a lawsuit if the ride-hail giant did not take its self-driving cars off of San Francisco’s roads after launching the service Dec. 14.

Though self-driving, the cars have a driver and engineer on board.

At least three of the self-driving vehicles have been caught on video and in photos appearing to run red lights, though Uber has said that those instances have all been due to “human error.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said the videos were a topic of discussion when he met Friday with Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, whose local Uber headquarters is only blocks from City Hall.

“Oh yeah, I brought up the video,” Lee said of the red-light running Uber car first reported by the Examiner. “He claimed — and I don’t know this for a fact — that the technology was turned off at the time.”

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