Uber deploying self-driving cars from San Francisco pilot in Arizona instead

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Uber will be rolling out its third-generation self-driving test vehicles, which are sensor-lated Volvo XC90 SUVs, in Arizona following their loss of registration in California. An Uber spokesperson tells TechCrunch that the cars actually left for Arizona by truck on Tuesday morning, and that they will be deployed there “in the next few weeks” with the full support of state Governor Doug Ducey.

Earlier on Thursday, Governor Ducey tweeted his clear support for Uber’s self-driving test, basically articulating an unqualified desire to have Uber redirect its efforts to Arizona. GM is also testing self-driving vehicles in Arizona, with a Scottsdale pilot launched earlier this year, and the state has also been working with Google’s self-driving car project, now its own company under Alphabet known as Waymo.

Uber met with the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the California state Attorney General’s office on Wednesday, after refusing to pursue a permit for testing autonomous driving in the state and continuing its San Francisco city pilot anyway. The result of the meeting was that the DMV revoked registration for 16 of Uber’s vehicles, the test fleet it had deployed with autonomous hardware and software in SF.

California’s DMV said it had also invited Uber once again to complete its permitting process, a required step for any company looking to test autonomous tech on public roads in the state. Uber said it would instead look to deploy its vehicles elsewhere, and it clearly wasted no time in doing so.

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Uber maintains that it did not require the permit because its vehicles still required a driver present at all times, and were not truly classified as autonomous cars under the California DMV’s definition. The ride-hailing company provided TechCrunch the images above of its XC90 fleet being loaded on Otto semi-trucks for transport to Arizona.

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