A new Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, made a shift that lined the way for his state to become a driverless cars utopia and won over Silicon Valley. Mr. Ducey finds out that a local regulator was planning a sting on Uber and Lyft drivers to shut down the ride-sharing services for operating illegally. He was furious about it.
He thought that it was the exact opposite message that should have been sending. All entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley should know that Arizona was open to new business ideas. And as he became an Arizona’s governor he had legalized ride-sharing.
Since that time Arizona has become a preferential partner for the tech industry. Thus it turned itself into a live laboratory for self-driving vehicles. Over the past two years, Arizona intentionally cultivated a rules-free environment for autonomous vehicles, unlike other states that have enacted driverless cars regulations over safety, insurance, and taxes.
A tech boom was the payoff for Arizona, with multiple autonomous vehicle companies crowding here to start up. Every day, Waymo, the driverless car, with Lyft, Uber, Intel and General Motors now set up hundreds of cars that are driverless on the streets of Phoenix. It became a flourishing metropolis of 1.4 million people.
Some businesses have pushed themselves by doing first-of-its-kind experiments in the state. For instance, Waymo announced that it had begun testing self-driving cars without anyone at the wheel to take over in an emergency. All automotive car trials had a human driver in the front seat before, just in case. Than Uber announced that it was also exploring similar tests in innovation navigation product development.
But Arizona’s tolerance has drawn some criticism from safety advocates who thought the companies have too much freedom to do their trials on public roads. They said state officials and car companies hadn’t solved questions about the prevention of cyber attacks on autonomous cars, the privacy of passengers, and how to ensure the security of vehicles that don’t have a driver.
Arizona authorities said that public has effective protection by basic rules that require a licensed driver somewhere in the automotive car. The state insurance regulator is waiting for the insurance industry to lead regulators on legal responsibility for driverless cars, especially in case a crash who will be responsible if a human being doesn’t drive the car?
Well, we think that it is good that they are not making regulations when they really don’t know how the automotive car development will perform.
Mr. Ducey impact on Uber
Mr. Ducey always thought that their state could beat California in every metric, fewer regulations, lower taxes and cost of living, higher quality of life.
Uber and Lyft executives thanked the governor for his support. At the time, Uber already had a little operation in Arizona for mapping roads. Two months later, the company announced that it would open a center in Phoenix for driver and customer support with 300 employees.
At that time, Mr. Ducey was taking his first steps into automotive vehicles and signed an executive order supporting them. He thought about the public safety, transportation factor, insurance, and other regulators to advance the operation and testing of automotive vehicles on public roads. But none suitable regulations existed at that time.
In California, Uber, Google, Ford, and GM, have fought lawmakers on self-driving rules. One rule required carmakers to account for the number of times a driverless car switched from autonomous mode to human-driven mode, which annoyed automakers who said those statistics give a false impression of safety.
That’s why may companies floured to Arizona, as the enthusiasm for new tech from the public and Governor Ducey makes it place where innovation can thrive.
Under Mr. Ducey, automotive car experiments in Arizona have grown over the last year.
Uber’s self-driving Volvo SUVs now pick up customers around Tempe on a daily basis. Waymo has sent more than 100 Chrysler automotive minivans to chauffeur families and other residents as part of a strongly guarded trial. The company plans to increase the car number to 600 vehicles by the end of the year. And many other vehicles for Ford, GM, Lyft, and Intel, are also driving around Phoenix.
Some residents have doubts. Groups that are representing the blind are enthusiastic supporters of such cars because they could give their members a lot of independence. Others support the idea of tech-related jobs coming to the state. But still, some are cautious. They are worried if the battery died in the car and it goes out of control and what about all the driver-employees?
Those questions are not just academic. The integration of automotive cars into human-driven traffic has faced some problems.
One of them is insurance, which is a huge debate in the industry, as who takes responsibility in a driverless car crash. Some think that the company, other that the third-party software or parts makers – since there is no driver.
The insurance companies need some time to figure out how they will ensure such cars. Arizona hasn’t changed its minimum insurance legal responsibility rules for self-driving car trials yet. The reason for this is that the government just doesn’t have the resources for that.
We must acknowledge that there are many unknowns. This phenomenon is relatively new, so there isn’t a lot of legislation yet. But the state ensures that smart machine development and incorporation will continue. It gives great cultural opportunities for Arizona to be seen as a place to live, work and have fun.