In the last decade, Uber has revolutionized public transportation. It used to be that if a tourist or a resident wanted to get somewhere, she would have to pay expensive fees for public transportation. With Uber, however, big cities can take somebody across town, sometimes for just $5. While an inexpensive and extremely convenient public transportation method might be nice, Uber has set its sights a little higher. They are investing their resources into the latest in driving technology, namely, self-driving cars. However, it seems that California has impeded their progress, disallowing the self-driving vehicles on the road. Uber has instead introduced their project to Arizona, where they received a warm welcome.

Self-Driving Is Perfectly Safe

If an Uber customer were to step into a vehicle and find that the driver’s seat was empty, that would probably be a cause for concern. Even the most advanced computers have glitches. The hardware on a computer can crash. A self-driving car could drive into traffic. But this image of an empty driver’s seat is purely a work of the imagination. Self-driving vehicles have somebody in the driver’s seat who can take control if necessary. They just simply need to pay attention to the road as if they were driving.

California’s Overbearing Regulations

There is a reason that many residents refer to California as the nanny state. It is widely known for a host of regulations that tend to overcomplicate things. It was these regulations that barred the self-driving cars. In fact, it might be charged against Uber that they did not even apply for the permit that California requires to operate a self-driving car. They cited the fact that they have a driver who will watch out for any system malfunctions. But in response, California canceled the registration of their self-driving cars.

Arizona And The Desire For Innovation

People are upset with California’s decision to force self-driving vehicles to flee to Arizona precisely because innovation is what has been the driving force of the United States economy. A first world country is built upon good ideas being implemented and used freely without overbearing regulations. That is why Governor Ducey of Arizona signed an executive order in 2015 that allowed self-driving vehicles. Uber was already operating self-driving vehicles in the state. So the launch of Uber’s project will make sense for Arizona. In his statement, Ducey was critical of California’s cumbersome regulations because they impede the growth of the economy and technological advancement.

Complications In The Auto Insurance Industry

The self-driving vehicle will begin to raise a few new challenges and could yield rewards for vehicle owners. In particular, the question of Arizona auto insurance will have to be considered. If a self-driving car causes an accident, then the machine would be liable for damages rather than the owner. Of course, one could make the argument that as the owner of the property, they would be liable. But nonetheless, it will complicate the issue if driver error is no longer a factor.

Further, some are speculating that with the rise of self-driving cars, the insurance industry could collapse entirely within a few short decades. The LA Times estimated that self-driving cars could reduce accidents by 90% (which is the amount of accidents that are caused by driver error). That figure might not apply to current models, as they are still in their infancy. But as engineers craft the models and identify possible bugs, it would seem likely that the figure provided by the LA Times is not far from the truth. Auto insurance policies could either become totally obsolete or far less expensive than they are today.

Californians might be excited about the future of technology, but at least for the next few years, they will have to watch it on television. For those states that welcome innovation, such as Arizona, the self-driving car is a reality.


By: Vincent Stokes