One week after launching its self-driving pilot program in its home town of San Francisco, Uber is packing up its failed trial and taking its fleet of autonomous vehicles to Phoenix, Arizona.
“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck,” an Uber spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
Uber cancels self-driving car trial in San Francisco after state forces it off road
Within hours of the program’s launch, multiple cars were caught running red lights – which Uber blamed on “human error” – and the department of motor vehicles ordered the vehicles off the road until the company obtained a permit.
Uber refused to apply for the permit, saying its intransigence was “an important issue of principle”. On Wednesday, the California department of motor vehicles announced that it was revoking the registration of the 16 cars, and Uber finally agreed to halt the program.
“Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads,” said Arizona governor Doug Ducey in a statement. “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, a technology enthusiast who went for a ride in a self-driving Waymo car on Monday, tweeted several invitations for Uber to move to his state in advance of Thursday’s announcement, using the hashtag #ditchcalifornia.
Uber will not have to violate its principles in testing self-driving vehicles in Arizona.
“Part of what makes Arizona an ideal place for Uber and other companies to test autonomous vehicle technology is that there are no special permits or licensing required,” the state department of transportation said in a statement. “In Arizona, autonomous vehicles have the same registration requirements as any other vehicle, and nothing in state law prevents testing autonomous vehicles.”
In August 2015, Ducey signed an executive order supporting the development and testing of autonomous vehicles in the state. The order established a committee to advise state agencies on the development of necessary rules or statutes relating to self-driving cars.
Uber already has a significant footprint in Arizona. In June 2015, the company opened a customer service office in Phoenix. Uber also announced a partnership with the University of Arizona for research on self-driving and mapping technology in August 2015.
Arizona has one of the highest rates of poverty in the country. The state has aggressively courted technology companies looking for cheaper outposts from Silicon Valley in order to boost its economy.