The ride-sharing company suddenly found itself at odds with Californian authorities when it started the autonomous trials with self-driving Volvos in San Francisco – and now found a cheeky way of showing its disdain for having to end the project.
California’s autonomous vehicle regulations stipulate the companies engaged in such activities need a special permit to drive on public roads – but Uber contended there was no need for paperwork since a human was always present. Anyways, Uber’s autonomous high-tech Volvos had to be removed from the state and the company decided to use its subsidiary Otto – which is famous for performing a self-driving 18-wheeler beer delivery. Instead of Bud cans, the piloted trucking firm Otto loaded the modified Volvo XC90 models onto its large rigs and hauled them away from the city – as they have a new home, sunny Arizona.
Uber has acquired Otto last year for about $680 million as the company is looking to enter the very lucrative sector of goods hauling with autonomous trucks capable of little or no input from a human driver. The firm can fit to existing large rigs $30,000 worth of lidar, radar, cameras, sensors, and special software that can today make long-distance transport an almost automatic undertaking.
Uber started its autonomous trials in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, earlier this year in modified Ford Fusions – and even offers customer rides in them. California’s Department of Motor Vehicles considered “Twenty manufacturers have already obtained permits to test hundreds of cars on California roads. Uber shall do the same,” according to a statement.