In this photo taken Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, an Uber driverless car is displayed in a garage in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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Uber is bringing a small number of self-driving cars to its ride-hailing service in San Francisco – a move likely to excite the city's tech-savvy population and certain to antagonize California regulators.California law, however, requires a test permit for self-driving prototype vehicles, and Uber does not have one. The company argues that the law doesn't apply because its cars require a human backup.Uber's fleet of Volvo XC90s won't be the first self-driving cars on San Francisco streets – several other companies visit regularly with test prototypes, though none offers public rides.Under state law, self-driving tests on public roads require a permit from the Department of Motor Vehicles.Uber argues that its cars aren't really autonomous, and thus aren't covered by the law. According to Anthony Levandowski, the leader of Uber's self-driving program, Uber's cars simply aren't advanced enough to drive themselves without human monitoring. Smith recalled discussing at the time the argument that Uber is now making: One day, a company might go public without a testing permit precisely because the law requires human oversight during testing.
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