How San Francisco Turned the Self Driving Car into the Ugly Duckling

If you have read the news recently, you might have heard buzz of Uber’s new self-driving car company.


SAN FRANCISCO, January 17, 2016 – If you have read the news recently, you might have heard buzz of Uber’s new self-driving car company. These modern test cars, which originally debuted as part of an inaugural testing program in California, have now moved on to Arizona. The news came as a big shock to the self-driving car industry, which is largely centered in southern California where Google first debuted the product and technology.

Why you may ask? Some surprising insights await you — and you don’t want to miss these three key facts. Read on to get all the details concerning why Uber made the big decision to move its self-driving car fleet to Arizona – and learn what you’ll need to know if you decide to take a self-driving Uber in the state or beyond!

Read our quick guide of three insights – and you may learn some surprising facts about this new technology and its future in the United States in 2017:


So What’s the Uber Deal in California?

When Uber launched its self-driving program in California, the company didn’t realize it would hit some road bumps with California lawmakers. In California, there is $150 charge per self-driving car to use public roads and highways. Uber was taken aback by this rule because its fleet of cars at the time are not truly autonomous. Every car actually has a human driver behind the wheel, who places his or her hands lightly on the wheel as a computer navigates the car, and is at the ready to intervene if the computer has difficulty driving or malfunctions in some way. Uber felt that it did not meet the requirements of the $150 permit rule because of the human drivers in the cars. However, the California Department of Motor Vehicles took away the car registrations of all Uber vehicles, so the company had to move out of state.


A Big Move to Arizona

Without being able to test its semi-autonomous, self-driving car fleet in California, Uber was at a loss. But Arizona Governor Doug Ducey heard about the conundrum and reached out to Uber. He invited the rideshare company to Arizona to test its fleet – and Uber welcomed the invitation.

In days, Uber made plans to ship its fleet to Arizona, where there isn’t a permit for self-driving cars on public roads. In addition, Arizona insurance rates are reasonable, making it easy for Uber to make the choice. The key with this initiative really is with the human driver behind the wheel. Not only does it make the passengers feel safer, but it helps with the lower cost of car insurance and rates.


What Can I Expect from Uber in Arizona?

There is great news ahead for Uber in Arizona, if everything continues on the track it has begun with Governor Doug Ducey. Some of the key indicators include: The governor set up a “Self-Driving Vehicle Oversight Committee” that brings together experts in the field to explore the efficacy and safety of the self-driving car technology – and how to expand it in through initiatives in the state.

Another positive sign: The University of Arizona currently is researching self-driving car mapping technology that will aide in more precise driving and better safety by testing it with cars on the University of Arizona campus. Excited about having academic researchers on their side, Uber is doing everything it can to advance this research and recently gave $25,000 to the university’s College of Optical Sciences to explore more research that could lead to a stronger and safer program for drivers and passengers working for Uber in the future.


Would You Get in a Self-Driving Car?

If you’re scared to get in a self-driving car right now, then you’re certainly not alone. Many Americans feel exactly the same way as you do because self-driving cars are so new. As the computer technology for the cars develops, it will become normalized and will improve. What gives a lot of passengers peace of mind in this early stage is that each of Uber’s self-driving cars come with a human driver behind the wheel. The car is navigated by a computer, but the human driver is vigilant and ready to intervene at a seconds notice. As the technology develops, you’ll be hearing more about this new journey for driving on the highway of the future!


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