A self-driving Uber was spotted in California Tuesday morning, but the company hasn’t been cleared to test in the state yet.
Drew Olanoff, senior vice president of Mercury Public Affairs, spotted the self-driving Uber making a left onto 1st Street from Market St at around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday, he told Business Insider over email. His wife, who was with him at the time, said the person behind the wheel was driving the car.
The Uber in the video appears to be the company’s Ford Fusion retrofitted with autonomous driving tech that was seen at Uber’s self-driving Pittsburgh pilot launch.
Uber does not have a permit to test autonomous vehicles in California as of Tuesday, a spokesperson from California’s Department of Motor Vehicles told Business Insider.
None of this means that Uber was breaking the rules by letting its car drive in autonomous mode on California roads, especially since a witness account states otherwise. A close look at the video does show the driver’s hands were on the wheel at the time the turn was made, however that’s also the case when the cars are in autonomous mode.
It’s possible Uber was using the car to map routes in California for testing at a later date. Mapping routes is a critical component to getting self-driving cars on the road, as the cars compare a map of what they should see to what they actually sense with sensors in order to detect obstacles.
Uber did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.
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