"Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck", Uber said on Thursday in an e-mail. "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". He argued Uber didn't need a permit because it is developing advanced driver-assist systems, not a true self-driving vehicle. Uber had said the permit shouldn't be required for its cars, and it had invited San Francisco customers to hail the vehicles in defiance of regulators over the past week before capitulating.
Within just well over a week of Uber's self-driving cars operating in California, the state had declared them as illegal, forcing the next resort to Arizona. Uber4, on the other hand, say they will not pay for that permit as they are not entirely autonomous.
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.
Uber's next move is unclear, but the company has stopped the pilot and may now send its 16 self-driving Volvo XC90s elsewhere.
Uber maintains it does not need a permit because the cars are not sophisticated enough to continuously drive themselves, although the company promotes them as "self-driving". "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.
In a statement, Uber said, "We're now looking at where we can redeploy these cars, but remain 100 per cent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules". The state DMV requires autonomous vehicle providers to register, something that Alphabet's Waymo, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, General Motors' Cruise and Baidu have done. The DMV noted that 20 companies, including Google and Tesla Motors, have received permission to operate an overall total of 130 test vehicles, and they are "obeying the law".
Similarly, the mayor of San Francisco, Ed Lee, has similarly gone on record to say that he supported the removal of the self-driving cars. CEO Travis Kalanick said as much back in August when his company started aggressively pushing into the trend, ignoring the opinion of many experts who said that autonomous driving technology is decades away from being ready. Whatever the misgivings, California remains an undisputed leader in autonomous testing, with 20 companies now permitted to test 130 autonomous vehicles in the state.