Uber ordered by state regulators to stop using self-driving cars in California

Uber has been ordered by state regulators to stop using self-driving cars in California, at least until it secures the necessary permit issued by the state to allow companies to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, the Associated Press reported.

According to a statement issued by the California Department of Motor Vehicles, Uber was expected to secure a permit, but the company maintained that it did not require the clearance as its vehicles were not fully self-driving and had a driver onboard at all times.

The self-driving pilot programme in San Francisco was an expansion of Uber's original launch of the service in Pittsburgh earlier this year. Uber deployed Volvo's XC90 SUV, a third-generation version of Uber's autonomous test vehicle in San Francisco.

Uber said earlier that it would not pursue the permit, the requirements for which were detailed by the California DMV, on a site dedicated to autonomous vehicle operation on public roads. The DMV warned in a letter to Uber of  ''legal action, including but not limited to, seeking injunctive relief'' if it failed to comply.

Prior to the letter, Uber's vehicle was caught on camera apparently running a red light, though the circumstances of this incident were not known, including whether this was while the car was human-driven or computer-operated at the time.

According to commentators, making the distinction on the definition of an autonomous vehicle was in line with Uber's history of testing legal boundaries. Although the company started operations only a decade  ago, it had clashed with  authorities in California and other parts of the world about background checks of drivers' histories that should be covered and whether those drivers needed to be treated as contractors ineligible for employee benefits.

"If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action," DMV chief counsel Brian Soublet said in his letter to Uber, AP reported.