ARIZONA NEWS

Uber moving self-driving car testing from California to Arizona

Dec 22, 2016, 2:05 PM | Updated: Dec 23, 2016, 11:20 am
FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, file photo, an Uber driverless car is displayed in a garage ...

FILE - In this Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016, file photo, an Uber driverless car is displayed in a garage in San Francisco. Uber has pulled its self-driving cars from California roads. The ride-sharing company said Wednesday, Dec. 21, California transportation regulators revoke registrations for the vehicles. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

PHOENIX — Rideshare giant Uber announced Thursday that it would relocate its self-driving car program from California to Arizona.

The decision to move the program was made after California insisted Uber apply for a special permit to operate the self-driving cars. Uber maintained it did not need a permit because the cars are not sophisticated enough to continuously drive themselves, although the company promotes them as “self-driving.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said he was “pleased to hear that the DMV took enforcement action.”

“I have always been a strong supporter of innovation and autonomous vehicle development and testing, but only under conditions that put human, bicyclist and pedestrian safety first,” he said in a statement.

Uber said the cars must constantly be monitored by a human driver trained to take control at any time, so they don’t fall under California’s permitting requirements for “autonomous vehicles.”

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said his state is excited to welcome an expanded self-driving Uber car research program.

“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,” he said in a statement. “California may not want you, but we do.”

Ducey, who signed an executive order in 2015 that allowed for the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles, said his state’s pro-business approach is a draw for technology companies.

“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,” he said in the statement.

Uber has already done some self-driving testing in Arizona. In July, a few of its cars were seen in the East Valley, though those were reportedly more for mapping and gathering data.

Several other companies — most notably Internet giant Google — are also testing self-driving cars on Arizona roads.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Uber moving self-driving car testing from California to Arizona