The unscheduled visit, which officials from the state's Department of Motor Vehicles are coordinating with the California Highway Patrol, is to "see the capabilities of Otto's trucks in person," a DMV spokeswoman said. The inspection comes months after the publication of an internal Otto document from 2016 detailing the company's testing procedures for its self-driving semi-trucks.
The document, which describes how “Otto trucks drive the highways surrounding San Francisco on a daily basis,” appears to contradict what Otto told state regulators about its program at a Feb. 24 meeting. At that time, Otto told the DMV that its trucks were not being operated autonomously, according to agency officials. Otto's description of testing procedures in a document prepared for officials in Colorado, however, seems at odds with this assessment. The document details how technicians are to engage autonomous software and disengage when conditions are too complicated for the system to handle safely. Industry experts and California officials who reviewed the document agreed that it described autonomous driving.
The discrepancy between what Otto explained in writing to Colorado officials last year and what it subsequently told California officials is the primary reason for the upcoming inspection in San Francisco. “The purpose of the site visit is to gain a better understanding of the technology and how it operates,” DMV spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez told Forbes.
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