Consumer Watchdog, a non-profit consumer advocacy group has penned a letter to the California DMV asking that they pull all Otto’s self-driving trucks off the road and seek penalties against both the company and its executives “to the fullest extent permissible under the law.”
Owned by ride-sharing giant Uber, Otto made headlines last year when its trucks partnered with Budweiser to make the first commercial delivery with an autonomous truck. Rather than creating a new self-driving truck from the ground up, Otto instead created a kit that can be used to give an existing truck autonomous capabilities.
According to Consumer Watchdog, the company has been testing its technology in California illegally. California only allows testing of self-driving vehicles once a permit is issued and only vehicles weighing under 10,000 lbs can be used to test. In their letter to Jean Shiomoto, the director of the California DMV, “Otto’s robot trucks fail on both counts. They have no permits and they weigh too much.”
In an interview with Recode, a DMV spokesperson made their position on large self-driving vehicles clear.
“Vehicles over 10,000 pounds are not allowed to test autonomous technology on California roadways,” the spokesperson said. “If a company is caught testing, they could be cited by law enforcement and their vehicle registrations could be revoked.”
But Otto claims that they haven’t been breaking any state regulations. This is because while their trucks are capable of autonomous driving, while they’re in the state of California, they don’t operate autonomously. Instead, the trucks were only making use of lane-assist and adaptive cruise control technology.
According to Consumer Watchdog however, Otto cannot be trusted. Pointing to past infractions by its parent company, Uber, Consumer Watchdog writes that “there is absolutely no reason to take Uber’s word for anything. The company simply cannot be trusted.”
“It seems obvious Otto is following the renegade and illegal practices of its parent company in testing self-driving technologies in California without a permit,” said Simpson in an interview with Car and Driver. “This is the same thing as driving without a license, and the enforcement folks should be pursuing this with vigor. I think someone should be in jail.”