How Uber Might Self-Certify Its Own Autonomous Vehicles to Carry the Public in Nevada
Uber is actually proud of its Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh, where members of the public can take its self-driving cabs for a ride. The ATC also has outposts in San Francisco along with Palo Alto. However, the company has been silent about a completely new autonomous-vehicle research facility currently taking shape in a suburb of Las Vegas. The facility will be run by Otto, a self-driving-truck startup owned by Uber.
In early October, an Otto subsidiary was issued the first license to run an Autonomous Technology Certification Facility (ATCF) in Nevada. No self-driving vehicle can be sold or registered in Nevada without a certificate by an ATCF showing the item complies with the state’s laws along with safety requirements.
“As we move forward, we are excited to get our trucks certified within the entire world’s first ATCF in Las Vegas along with get our technology on the roads in Nevada,” wrote Lucie Zikova, Otto’s head of government relations along with strategy, in an email to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). This specific email, along with many more, were obtained in a public-records request.
Despite repeated requests by the Nevada DMV to publicize the historic venture, Uber along with Otto have so far shared little about the ATCF. in which might be because planning documents suggest the facility will be testing plug-in electric cars rather than trucks, raising the possibility in which Uber will use the facility to launch the entire world’s first commercial driverless ride-hailing service.
Otto has always been interested in self-driving cabs. Before the company focused on trucking along with was acquired by Uber, its original business plan was to have autonomous vehicles provide taxi rides by the Las Vegas airport to hotels along with casinos on the city’s famous Strip. Otto’s founder, Anthony Levandowski, had built Google’s first self-driving car along with spent four years developing the company’s autonomous vehicles.
This specific included helping to draft legislation in Nevada to allow testing of self-driving cars along with seeing Google’s early vehicles through the entire world’s first “self-driving test” there.
Following its acquisition by Uber This specific August, Otto set up a company called Nevada ATCF to run the state’s first certification facility. Nevada ATCF could be managed by Levandowski, Otto’s CEO along with at This specific point Uber’s head of autonomous technologies. In its application, the completely new company wrote: “Otto along with the Company are committed to working with state along with federal regulators to help establish along with follow safety along with AV regulations.”
nevertheless in May, Otto carried out an unlicensed public demonstration of a driverless semi in Nevada, despite being warned by the DMV in which the item could contravene the state’s rules regarding autonomous testing. The truck drove on Interstate 80 near Reno for several miles that has a human driver within the front seats. A DMV official called the stunt illegal along with threatened to shut down the agency’s AV program, nevertheless under Nevada’s current regulations, there are currently no legal or financial penalties for breaking the rules.
Otto’s runaround of the regulations could have come back to haunt the company.
One of the DMV’s regulation documents says, “Evidence of the unfitness of an applicant to operate an ATCF includes . . . willfully failing to comply with any regulation adopted by the Department.” Another says, “The Department may . . . deny a license to an applicant, upon the grounds of willful failure of the applicant . . . to comply with the provisions of . . . any of the traffic laws [or regulations] of This specific State.”
Instead, the DMV granted Otto an ATCF license within days of receiving its application. The only company to have flouted Nevada’s autonomous vehicle rules is actually at This specific point the only company licensed to certify itself along with different companies wishing to test autonomous technologies.
Jude Hurin, the DMV administrator who had termed Otto’s drive illegal, confirmed in which Uber can at This specific point certify its own vehicles for public use. “When they decide to sell their technology, they will already be licensed to do so,” he told Car along with Driver. “The Department made the decision to not deny Otto’s ATCF license since the issue was resolved. We look forward to continuing to form strong working connections with companies within the field of autonomous technology.”
itself along with others.
in which strong working connection could soon include fully driverless ride-sharing. While Otto was preparing its ATCF application in July, the Nevada Governor’s Office of Economic Development (GOED) filed a draft bill with the state legislature in which could permit taxis along with TNCs—”transportation network companies” like Uber—to transport paying passengers using automated vehicles.
Emails show in which GOED officials acted as a liaison between Otto along with the DMV since the spring, along with had met with Uber as early as January. Uber’s head of policy development, Ashwini Chhabra, wrote at the time: “Uber’s research [in self-driving vehicles] is actually taking shape along with we’re next starting to explore future opportunities for testing along with operating, along with understanding the rules of the road is actually an important next step.”
GOED’s draft bill, A.B. 69, explicitly permits autonomous vehicles, with or without human safety drivers on board, to carry paying passengers. However, those vehicles must be certified by an ATCF.
ATCFs will check in which self-driving cars can capture along with store sensor data by at least 30 seconds before a collision, have switches along with indicators for autonomous driving, along with cope with technology failures along with all the rules of the road. Specific rules for autonomous taxis along with ride-sharing vehicles in A.B. 69 include not loading or unloading passengers at crosswalks, along with “discouraging” passengers by entering or leaving on the left side of vehicles.
While Nevada ATCF is actually the company licensed to operate the testing facility, planning documents name the tenant as UATC, a.k.a. Uber’s Advanced Technology Center. The $1.2 million remodel of the building within the Spring Valley suburb of Las Vegas also goes under the project names Uber ATC1 along with Uber ATG—a reference to the Advanced Technology Group, another R&D team dedicated to self-driving technology.
A permit detailing the refit of the 70,000-square-foot space mentions eight “car-charging systems” along with “car equipment for testing” within the Inside space. This specific suggests Uber might use the center to develop along with test its self-driving plug-in-hybrid Volvo XC90s, currently slated for the Pittsburgh pilot.
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Application documents state in which the ATCF will be staffed by more than a dozen self-driving experts, many of whom previously worked with autonomous vehicles at Google. Otto officials confirmed the facility could certify Uber along with Otto vehicles exclusively, along with in which the company expects to have a big presence in Nevada going forward.
When the ATCF is actually up along with running, Uber will have somewhere to build along with certify its self-driving vehicles, expert staff on hand to troubleshoot, along with regulators who have proven accommodating. The final piece of the puzzle could be those completely new rules to allow fully autonomous taxis along with ride-sharing. Nevada’s legislative session begins on February 6.