Arizona scores a victory as DMV vanquishes Uber

by Steve Blum • , , ,

So what if Acme got a permit?

Angry taxi drivers couldn’t do it. Stroppy city councils couldn’t do it. But California’s department of motor vehicles did it. The DMV has, um, driven Uber out of California, and into the arms of Arizona. The fight over Uber’s (sorta) self-driving car test in San Francisco ended with the offending vehicles being loaded onto a truck and hauled across the Colorado River. According to a story on SFGate.com, Arizona is happy to see them…

“Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck,” an Uber spokeswoman said Thursday afternoon in a statement. “We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor Ducey”…

In a statement Thursday, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey called California’s regulations burdensome and said Arizona welcomes Uber’s self-driving car test with “open arms.”

“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 contrast to the DMV, which issued a scolding press release claiming 20 companies had bowed to its authority and decreed “Uber shall do the same”, Arizona’s department of transportation said no worries, mate

Part of what makes Arizona an ideal place for Uber and other companies to test autonomous vehicle technology is that there are no special permits or licensing required. In Arizona, autonomous vehicles have the same registration requirements as any other vehicle, and nothing in state law prevents testing autonomous vehicles.

California not only requires a special permit for autonomous vehicle operation, it also demands that companies turn over test data, by default making it public. That was one, maybe the main, reason Uber pushed back. Companies, like Google, that have a working relationship with the open source world, can factor that kind of disclosure into their business plans. Up to a point, anyway. But proprietary, pre-IPO unicorns like Uber will not do their R&D in the glare of publicity – except when that publicity serves a purpose.

Instead, they’ll make a run for the border.