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California tells Uber to stop transporting people in self-driving cars

Just hours after it started a public pilot program in San Francisco giving passengers rides in self-driving cars, Uber was notified by the California Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday that if the company doesn't stop, it will face legal action.

The DMV said it is illegal for Uber to offer the service without having a permit to operate "autonomous vehicles" on public roads, The Associated Press reports. Uber said it was aware of the permit, but since their self-driving cars still have a person behind the wheel to intervene if necessary, they don't fit the definition of an "autonomous vehicle." The permits cost $150, with users having to show proof of insurance and reporting to the state every crash and instance when a person had to take control of the vehicle. The letter did not specify the legal action Uber might face.

The pilot program uses Volvo SUVs with sensors that allow the car to steer, accelerate, brake, and change lanes. Users can notify Uber if they are unwilling to ride in a self-driving car, and the cost is the same as getting a lift in a standard vehicle.