PUC: Driverless cars will need OK once Uber charges

Written by The Associated Press | Sep 16, 2016 12:31 PM

A self-driving car takes off from Uber's newest riverside hub in Pittsburgh, Pa. Company officials say the Rust Belt city is perfect for beta testing, citing diverse topography, frequent weather maladies, construction, bridges and tunnels. (Courtesy -- Megan Harris/WESA)

(Pittsburgh) -- The state agency that regulates taxicabs and transportation businesses in Pennsylvania says it doesn't have jurisdiction over free trips in self-driving cars being offered by Uber, but it will once the company starts charging. 

The Public Utility Commission says it wants a review of the regulatory, legal and technical issues raised by autonomous vehicles. 

Uber began a test program of the vehicles in Pittsburgh on Wednesday

The regulatory agency says any business that wants to transport people for money has to prove it's safe and get approval before starting the service. 

The ride-hailing company is offering free rides by invitation, with human drivers along as a safety precaution. 

The state Transportation Department is currently looking at the issues through the Autonomous Vehicle Task Force, established in June.

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