Ride-sharing company Uber unleashed its self-driving cars on the city streets of San Francisco only to be ordered to put them in park just hours later. The company initially refused to remove its vehicles from the street as they were legally registered. After a short back-and-forth argument, Uber ultimately jumped ship and left California.
Uber launched its self-driving vehicle program in mid-December, but the DMV quickly informed the company that the vehicles weren’t legal despite having legal registration. Regulators demanded that Uber obtain an additional permit to which the ride-sharing company refused.
The company initially refused to put the autonomous program in park. California’s Office of the Attorney General, in response, wrote a letter demanding Uber remove the vehicles or it would face legal problems. Still, Uber refused. Finally, the DMV revoked the registration of all 16 autonomous vehicles, suggesting it obtain the proper permit.
There’s just one problem: Uber’s self-driving vehicles don’t fit California’s description of autonomous vehicles and, therefore, do not require a permit to operate. Safety drivers are present at all times when the self-driving vehicles are on the road. The company argued that since there is indeed a capable driver behind the wheel, there was no need to obtain a permit.
Following the revocation of the vehicle’s registration, Uber announced it would be leaving California rather than jump through the numerous hoops required to operate within the state. Another state was more than welcoming to the company’s self-driving vehicles though.
Uber quickly moved its operations from San Francisco to Phoenix, Arizona. The company plans to expand its self-driving pilot there. All of the modified Volvo XC90 self-driving cars arrived via a self-driving semi on December 23rd. The ride-sharing company has received a very warm welcome and an outpouring of support from both city and state officials.
The city of San Francisco is just the latest to attempt to regulate the non-traditional sharing services.
The city of Seattle wants to force both Uber and Lyft to release information regarding where drivers pick up and drop off passengers. Seattle’s City Council also passed an ordinance that, if approved, would require all drivers to join a union.
Austin, Texas mandated that all drivers must be fingerprinted despite the fact that both companies already perform extensive background checks. Both companies withdrew from the Lone Star state’s capital as a result.
Ride-sharing services aren’t alone either. Governor Cuomo of New York previously requested the Federal Trade Commission regulate home-sharing services like Airbnb.
There is a bright side to all of these regulations, or lack thereof, though. Uber and Lyft recently got the go-ahead to operate within the state of Pennsylvania. Governor Tom Wolf signed Senate Bill 984, legalizing the operation of ride-sharing companies within state lines. The law also states that two-thirds of the tax revenue gained from ride-sharing services would help fund school districts. It just goes to show that less regulation can be good for the state’s economy.