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Uber’s self-driving cars begin picking up riders in Phoenix area

(AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)

PHOENIX — Self-driving Uber vehicles began picking up passengers in the Phoenix area on Tuesday, the company announced in a press release.

Uber said as many as three passengers can ride in one of the self-driving cars at a time, but none are allowed in the front seats. That space will be occupied by specialized operators who ensure the ride goes smoothly.

The company said riders will be informed that they are being picked up by a self-driving vehicle. Those who would rather leave the steering to a human will have the option to cancel their ride and request another.

There will be no price change for riders who use a self-driving vehicle on UberX.

Gov. Doug Ducey took a spin in one of the cars Tuesday to mark the announcement.

In late December, Uber made the decision to move its self-driving car hub to Arizona after meeting opposition from California legislators.

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

“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.”

Uber had 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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