San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee calls on Uber to park self-driving cars

SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) -- San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee on Thursday called upon Uber to stop testing self-driving cars on city streets without a permit from state regulators.

The San Francisco-based ride-booking company debuted self-driving vehicles on its UberX service in the city yesterday, and promptly met with controversy.

State Department of Motor Vehicles Officials noted that Uber had failed to obtain the permits legally required for testing autonomous vehicles and promptly issued a cease-and-desist letter, threatening legal action if the company did not comply.

In a statement today, the mayor agreed, saying the San Francisco-based ride-booking company needed to "do what is required by law and obtain a permit from the DMV, just like every other company testing autonomous vehicles in San Francisco."

"This is not just a matter of following the law, it's a matter of public safety," Lee said. "Our primary concern is keeping our streets safe for pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists. Street safety is especially important this week as San Francisco deals with inclement weather."

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Uber has not responded directly to the DMV's letter or to requests for comment today. In a statement issued Wednesday morning the company indicated that they did not believe they needed a permit because the vehicles, while technically autonomous, still had a person at the wheel to monitor them.

The company has operated a similar pilot in Pittsburgh for the past three months.

Even before the DMV's action, the self-driving vehicles were generating some controversy.

A video posted on Youtube by user Charles Rotter, taken from the dashboard camera of a Luxor Taxi, allegedly shows one of the vehicles running a red light. Twitter user Annie Gaus also tweeted that she had seen a similar incident on Van Ness while riding in a Lyft vehicle.

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