Uber takes self-driving cars to Arizona after California demands permit
Uber Technologies Inc on Thursday removed its self-driving test cars from California and put them on trucks bound for Arizona, shuttering the autonomous vehicle project in its home state after a week-long battle with regulators.
The California Department of Motor Vehicles on Wednesday revoked the registration of 16 cars in Uber’s self-driving fleet, which the regulator said lacked the proper permits. Uber’s self-driving program had been up and running in San Francisco for just a week, and all the while the company was embroiled in a dispute with the state DMV and attorney general.
“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck,” an Uber spokeswoman said in a written statement. “We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks.”
San Francisco was to be Uber’s second testing ground for its self-driving cars after Pittsburgh, but the company immediately faced a backlash from the DMV, which requires a permit to test autonomous vehicles on public roads. Uber refused to apply for the permit, arguing that state regulations do not apply to its cars, which require constant monitoring and interference by someone in the car.
California defines autonomous vehicles as having the capability to drive “without the active physical control or monitoring of a natural person.
Arizona Governor Doug Ducey on Thursday invited Uber to bring its cars to his state.
“Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads,” Ducey said in a statement released Thursday. “While California puts the brakes on innovation and change with more bureaucracy and more regulation, Arizona is paving the way for new technology and new businesses.”
Ducey signed an executive order in late August 2015 directing various agencies to “undertake any necessary steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads within Arizona.”
Both the California DMV and attorney general threatened legal action if Uber did not remove its self-driving cars from the road, which the company ultimately did on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Heather Somerville and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)