Uber sends SF self-driving cars to Arizona after backlash

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Uber says it’s pulling its self-driving car pilot program from San Francisco and moving it to Arizona.

An Uber spokesperson says, “Our cars departed for Arizona this morning by truck. We’ll be expanding our self-driving pilot there in the next few weeks, and we’re excited to have the support of Governor Ducey.”

Earlier this week Uber announced it was parking its self-driving cars that had been operating on San Francisco streets for over a month after state regulators pulled the company vehicle registrations.

The company has operated a similar pilot in Pittsburgh for the past three months. But in a written statement, the company said it was weighing its next steps.

"We have stopped our self-driving pilot in California as the DMV has revoked the registrations for our self-driving cars," an Uber spokesperson said via e-mail. 

News of Uber's decision came after the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the state Attorney General's office met Wednesday to discuss the pilot program. State regulators and city leaders had all raised questions about the operation of the company's autonomous cars on San Francisco streets.

DMV officials have said Uber had failed to obtain the permits legally required for testing autonomous vehicles and promptly issued a cease-and-desist letter, threatening legal action if the company did not comply.

Mayor Ed Lee, who has been a long-time advocate of car sharing, ride sharing and driverless technology, said Wednesday that he fully expects all autonomous vehicle developers -- including Uber CEO Travis Kalanick -- to follow state and city laws.

"I think he should not be operating his driverless vehicle technology without that permit," Lee said. "Twenty other companies have not had a problem getting those permits."

Uber had argued that a permit is unnecessary because a human attendant in the driver's seat.  Before the company announced that it was halting its pilot program, Mayor Lee told KTVU that his administration was asking the city attorney about what enforcement powers city police have in the dispute.

Photos Uber sent KTVU Thursday show the self-driving cars being loaded onto trucks to be sent to Arizona.