Ubers self-driving car fleet quits California and heads to Arizona



  • Regulators often get in the way – sometimes rightly – of the testing and adoption of new technologies but companies often find a way round them


Silicon Valley is known as the home of tech innovation so it’s no surprise Uber chose San Francisco as the test site for their ride sharing app back in 2011 but now it looks like the Golden State wants to tangle their future research in red tape. And now one states loss is another state’s gain.


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Uber began testing a fleet of 16 self driving Volvo SUVs in San Francisco earlier this month. A week later, California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) revoked all 16 registrations, insisting that a special permit was required and that Uber must publicly report statistics from their R&D program. Not wanting to invest millions in research to benefit their competitors, Uber sought out a different state. And they found one – Arizona.

“California may not want you, but we do,” said Arizona Governor Doug Ducey. So, on Thursday, the company shipped all their self-driving vehicles to the state capitol in Phoenix to be met personally by Ducey in a public celebration.

“Arizona welcomes Uber self-driving cars with open arms and wide open roads,” said Ducey, “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. In 2015, I signed an executive order supporting the testing and operation of self-driving cars in Arizona with an emphasis on innovation, economic growth, and most importantly, public safety. This is about economic development, but it’s also about changing the way we live and work. Arizona is proud to be open for business.”


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This is far from the first time a business has fled California’s “suffocating” regulatory climate. Arizona has gained 83 companies and more than 12,000 jobs due to California’s meddling bureaucracy, including investments by Google, Lucid Motors, and McKesson Corporation. Add in Texas, Nevada, and other red states, and you have an Atlas Shrugged-style exodus.

California’s losses and the rest of the southwest’s gains show what happens when government gets out of the way — and what happens when it doesn’t.

About author

Matthew Griffin

Matthew Griffin, described as “The Adviser behind the Advisers” and a “Young Kurzweil,” is the founder and CEO of the World Futures Forum and the 311 Institute, a global Futures and Deep Futures consultancy working between the dates of 2020 to 2070, and is an award winning futurist, and author of “Codex of the Future” series. Regularly featured in the global media, including AP, BBC, Bloomberg, CNBC, Discovery, RT, Viacom, and WIRED, Matthew’s ability to identify, track, and explain the impacts of hundreds of revolutionary emerging technologies on global culture, industry and society, is unparalleled. Recognised for the past six years as one of the world’s foremost futurists, innovation and strategy experts Matthew is an international speaker who helps governments, investors, multi-nationals and regulators around the world envision, build and lead an inclusive, sustainable future. A rare talent Matthew’s recent work includes mentoring Lunar XPrize teams, re-envisioning global education and training with the G20, and helping the world’s largest organisations envision and ideate the future of their products and services, industries, and countries. Matthew's clients include three Prime Ministers and several governments, including the G7, Accenture, Aon, Bain & Co, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell EMC, Dentons, Deloitte, E&Y, GEMS, Huawei, JPMorgan Chase, KPMG, Lego, McKinsey, PWC, Qualcomm, SAP, Samsung, Sopra Steria, T-Mobile, and many more.


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