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Prime Mover Magazine

Uber’s driverless truck unit under investigation

Californian regulators are preparing a site inspection of the San Francisco headquarters of Uber’s autonomous truck unit, formerly known as Otto, to determine whether the company broke state law when it tested driverless trucks on public highways without permission, according to Forbes.

The unscheduled visit, which officials from the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) are reportedly coordinating with the California Highway Patrol, is to “see the capabilities of Otto’s trucks in person,” a DMV spokeswoman told the magazine.

The inspection comes only months after the publication of an internal Otto document from 2016 detailing the company’s testing procedures for its self-driving prime movers.

The document reportedly described how “Otto trucks drive the highways surrounding San Francisco on a daily basis” and contradicted what Otto told state regulators about its testing regime.

“Otto told the DMV that its trucks were not being operated autonomously,” Forbes found out.

“Otto's description of testing procedures … seems at odds with this assessment.

“The document details how technicians are to engage autonomous software and disengage when conditions are too complicated for the system to handle safely.”

Forbes summarised that both industry experts and California officials who reviewed the document agreed that it described autonomous driving.

“The purpose of the site visit is to gain a better understanding of the technology and how it operates,” DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Forbes.

“Based on DMV’s meeting with the company earlier this year, they conveyed that the technology operating on California roads is not autonomous. This meeting will be a follow-up to that.”

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