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Uber Releases New Self-Driving Cars in San Francisco

Uber, as with other pioneers of the sharing economy, became the dominant force in its respective industry by operating under the philosophies of best to move fast and break limits and to ask forgiveness, not permission.

This month, Uber continues its brazen approach of introducing new tech with the unleashing of a squadron of self-driving cars on San Francisco's streets (the ultimate goal being to see a fleet of self-driving vehicles hitting the streets across the country). This launch comes after a public pilot program initiated in September in Pittsburg. However, the California Department of Motor Vehicles isn't too keen on being a test city, having sent the company a "must cease" letter on initiation day. The DMV cited a California law requiring special state permits to test autonomous vehicles on public roads, a permit Uber lacks.

Uber, however, in its tech-aggressive manner, is choosing to ignore the admonishment and argues instead that its self-driving vehicles do not count as autonomous vehicles as they require a person sitting behind the wheel. They are to monitor and intervene if and when necessary.

These new self-driving vehicles are the result of a special Uber-Volvo partnership. Marketed specifically as the San Francisco XC90 SUVs, these self-driving units have more tightly integrated sensors and a detailed 360-degree road-view camera to orient self-driving capabilities. Add to that GPS, lidar, and radar, this is a test project that could certainly make huge advancements on autonomous vehicle technology.

Of course, it's important to note that Uber is just one of several tech and auto giants looking to be the first big-name in autonomous cars. Tesla and Google, both established tech firms, are engineering autonomous vehicles, albeit with their own take on how the technology compliments culture.

All of the major automakers are also exploring and implementing their own versions of autonomous technologies, but in a much more gradual fashion. Known collectively as driver-assist systems, these autonomous-oriented tech features include active cruise control, a system utilizing radar sensors to measure the speed of vehicles in front and reduce speed accordingly, and automated parking, a system capable of detecting an appropriate parking spot, steering in, and braking to ease safely into place.

Uber's thrusting of the self-driving SC90s onto the autonomous scene marks a contrast to those slow feature introductions. It's a move that'll likely hasten mass adoption of the technology as other tech and automakers rush to push their products onto the market. Yet, with one XC90 running a red light the day it was introduced, some say the move was too soon.

With new technology always come new or different risks. If you've been in an accident, whether by person or self-driving vehicle, contact GGRM at 702-388-4476 to schedule a free consultation and receives the compensation you deserve.