Uber moves self-driv­ing cars from Cal­i­for­nia to Ari­zona

Gov­er­nor tweets Ari­zona an al­ter­na­tive

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -


A fleet of self-driv­ing Uber cars left for Ari­zona on Thurs­day af­ter they were banned from Cal­i­for­nia roads over safety con­cerns. The an­nounce­ment came af­ter Ari­zona Gov. Doug Ducey took to social media on Wed­nes­day and Thurs­day tout­ing Ari­zona as an al­ter­na­tive to Cal­i­for­nia for the ride-hail­ing com­pany to test out its self-driv­ing cars.

Ducey, a Repub­li­can, sent tweets ad­ver­tis­ing Ari­zona’s friendly busi­ness en­vi­ron­ment, say­ing Uber should ditch Cal­i­for­nia for the Grand Canyon state. Uber said in a state­ment that it had shipped its cars to Ari­zona and will be ex­pand­ing its self-driv­ing pi­lot pro­gram in the next few weeks. The com­pany hasn’t an­nounced a date when the cars will be tested, nor did it pro­vide de­tails about how many cars were in­cluded. Uber pre­vi­ously had 16 self-driv­ing cars reg­is­tered in Cal­i­for­nia.

“Ari­zona wel­comes Uber self-driv­ing cars with open arms and wide open roads. 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 said in a writ­ten state­ment.

Ducey spokesman Daniel Scarpinato said the gov­er­nor has been a strong sup­porter of driver­less car tech­nol­ogy and new busi­ness mod­els, sign­ing in Au­gust 2015 an ex­ec­u­tive or­der sup­port­ing the test­ing of such cars in Ari­zona. Uber faced im­me­di­ate back­lash af­ter it launched its Cal­i­for­nia test­ing in San Fran­cisco last week.

The Cal­i­for­nia De­part­ment of Mo­tor Ve­hi­cles had threat­ened le­gal ac­tion if Uber kept the cars on the road, say­ing they needed the same spe­cial per­mit as the 20 other com­pa­nies test­ing self-driv­ing tech­nol­ogy in Cal­i­for­nia.

Uber said it doesn’t need that per­mit be­cause the cars are not so­phis­ti­cated enough to con­tin­u­ously drive them­selves. Still, the com­pany pro­motes the cars as “self-driv­ing.”

The ride-hail­ing com­pany and state reg­u­la­tors ne­go­ti­ated for a week, but Uber pulled its cars off Cal­i­for­nia roads Wed­nes­day af­ter state of­fi­cials an­nounced they would re­voke the ve­hi­cle regis­tra­tions of all 16 self-driv­ing cars. The DMV said the regis­tra­tions for the ve­hi­cles were wrongly is­sued be­cause they were not prop­erly marked as test ve­hi­cles. It in­vited Uber to seek a per­mit so their ve­hi­cles could op­er­ate legally in Cal­i­for­nia - an of­fer the com­pany said it did not plan to ac­cept. Uber said on Wed­nes­day it was look­ing for other places to test out the cars but re­mained 100 per­cent com­mit­ted to Cal­i­for­nia and would re­dou­ble its ef­forts “to de­velop work­able statewide rules.”

Ducey called Cal­i­for­nia’s rules “over-reg­u­la­tion.” It’s un­clear which if any reg­u­la­tions ex­ist in Ari­zona that would ap­ply to the test­ing of self-driv­ing cars. The ex­ec­u­tive or­der Ducey signed last year calls for the state’s pub­lic safety and trans­porta­tion de­part­ments to take steps to­ward al­low­ing for the test­ing of self-driv­ing cars. “This is about eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment, but it’s also about chang­ing the way we live and work. Ari­zona is proud to be open for busi­ness. Cal­i­for­nia may not want you, but we do,” he said in a state­ment. —AP

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