Uber Moves Self-Driving Cars From California To Arizona Via Self-Driving Trucks

After losing its tussle with California over permits for self-driving cars, Uber yesterday abruptly loaded its fleet of 16 self-driving Volvos onto flatbed trucks and headed to Arizona.

In what might be construed as thumbing its nose at the state, the flatbeds were hauled by Uber’s Otto self-driving big rigs, although it appeared they were not being autonomously driven.

“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck. We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor Ducey,” an Uber spokesperson said.

Uber’s move came after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the registration of the ride-hailing company’s self-driving cars because the company refused to get the $150 permits for testing autonomous cars that the state requires.

SEE ALSO: Uber Picks a Fight With California and Keeps Self-Driving Cars on City Streets

The vehicles were part of Uber’s San Francisco pilot autonomous ride-hailing program launched last week, similar to one the company introduced earlier in Pittsburg, PA.

Within hours after the cars hit the streets, the DMV threatened legal action if Uber did not apply for the autonomous vehicle permits.

The bickering between the state and Uber lasted a week, with the company adamantly arguing that the cars were not truly driverless and therefore should not require the testing permits.

Anthony Levandowski, who runs Uber’s autonomous car programs, said the company does not need the permits since the vehicles do not fit California’s definition of “autonomous,” or having “the capability to drive a vehicle without the active physical control or monitoring by a human operator,” Automotive News reported.

The pilot cars always have an Uber engineer behind the steering wheel, and function more like driver assist technology, Levandowski said.

It has been suggested that the underlying reason that Uber was standing its ground is the permit requires detailed disclosure of accidents and other incidents that are made public, something the company may not want.

Moving the cars to Arizona was somewhat a surprise after Uber said in a statement that it remained “100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules.”

SEE ALSO: Uber Pulls Self-Driving Cars Off San Francisco Streets

But California’s loss is Arizona’s gain, and that state’s governor called California’s regulations “burdensome” and welcomed the ride-hailing company.

“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,” Arizona’s governor Doug Ducey said in a statement.

“Arizona is proud to be open for business. California may not want you, but we do.”

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