Uber begins a new experiment in autonomous ride-hailing after two months of prep.
Two months ago, Uber loaded a bunch of self-driving SUVs into a self driving truck bound for Arizona where they will be testing out the concept of using autonomous vehicles for their ride-hailing service. The move to Arizona comes after California’s Department of Motor Vehicles revoked the registration for the 16 cars. Hopefully, the new destination for the trucks will lead to a more successful outcome. This is likely, considering that the project is backed by Governor Doug Ducey, a Republican, who is expected to be “Rider Zero” on an autonomous trip along with Anthony Levandowski, VP of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group.
The controversy in California followed the debut of the company’s self-driving service in San Fransisco last December. California law dictates that self driving cars need to pay for a $150 permit to be allowed on the road. Uber argued that the fee didn’t apply since there were always Uber engineers in the cars. The California DMV called their bluff and pulled the registration on the vehicles. California also demands that self driving cars make public the number of times a driver has had to take the wheel, something companies like Uber are probably reluctant to do.
Meanwhile, Arizona has a “do as you wish” approach, and the governor even signed an executive order to “undertake any necessary steps to support the testing and operation of self-driving vehicles on public roads within Arizona.”
Starting today, anyone in Tempe, Arizona can hail a self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV to drive them to their destination. Every car will, like in San Fransisco, have two Uber engineers on board in case anything goes wrong. Uber says that it hopes to expand coverage to other cities in Arizona over the coming weeks. The company first began offering self-driving services in Pittsburgh last September.
source: The Verge