Uber moves its self-driving cars to Arizona to escape California regulators

Uber argues the vehicles shouldn't require the permit because they aren't ready to drive without a monitoring driver; an Uber spokesperson told Bicycling it "remains 100-percent committed to California".

A fleet of self-driving Uber cars left for Arizona on Thursday after they were banned from California roads over safety concerns. And when one such vehicle was caught on video running a red light in San Francisco, the company was quick to blame the driver, not the technology.

But after mounting pressure from the state, the company has made a decision to pick up and move its driverless auto program to Arizona. "California may not want you; but AZ does!" he wrote on Twitter. The DMV insist that Uber should pay the $150 permit to be allowed to operate vehicles on public roads.

"It doesn't apply to us, so there's no reason to get into regulations", he said. "I don't have any confidence that the self-driving cars will be any safer, and not create any hazards".

At least for now, Uber won't be testing self-driving cars on the streets of San Francisco.

For the past week, there has been an intense confrontation between Uber and the DMV. They must obtain the same registration as any other vehicle.

The permit requires the company to disclose the number of accidences and how often the automatic system is used.

For its part, Uber hasn't totally given up on deploying its cars in California.

So far, Uber has balked. Tesla doesn't file any such reports and similarly believes it doesn't meet the requirements for autonomous vehicles.

The cars had been on San Francisco streets for just a week when they were forced to the curb. Uber answered by saying the error was due to the human driver, who has been subsequently penalized and suspended.

The San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has said the cars make illegal and unsafe right turns through bike lanes. But, he said, "If there is a competitor taking unnecessary risks, that could be a bad thing".

This clash is reminiscent of Uber's early days, when it began offering its ride-hailing service in cities nationwide without local permission.

The company has operated a similar pilot in Pittsburgh for the past three months.

But this case was much more extreme, experts said.

"Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck", Uber said on Thursday in an e-mail. Uber subsequently admitted that its vehicles have a "problem" recognizing bike lanes, and the company said that its engineers are working to resolve the issue.

  • Latoya Cobb