Arizona Governor Doug Ducey issued a new executive order on Thursday that formalizes what many have already assumed: cars without drivers are allowed without anyone behind the wheel to operate on public roads. The only warning is that vehicles follow all existing laws and traffic rules for cars and drivers.
"As technology advances, our policies and priorities must adapt to remain competitive in today's economy," Ducey said in a statement. "This executive order adopts new technologies by creating an environment that supports the innovation of autonomous vehicles and maintains a focus on public safety."
Arizona is a hotbed of automotive vehicle testing, with more than 600 cars circulating on their own that operate on public roads in the state today. Both Waymo and Intel are testing their autonomous cars in Chandler, while the respective vehicles of Uber and GM can be seen on the roads of Scottsdale and the surrounding area.
. @ dougducey updated its 2015 executive order on autonomous vehicles to advance the position of our state as a national leader for the development of this technology while continuing to protect public safety. Read the EO here: https://t.co/qnG6rMFXue- The ninth floor (@ 9thFloorAZ) March 1, 2018
Waymo is already operating its fully driverless minivans on public roads and plans to soon open those vehicles to members of its Early Rider program. He has also requested a travel permit to operate a commercial taxi service.
Ducey's decision to codify his state's permissive policies for autonomous vehicle testing comes a few days after California announced it would allow fully driverless cars to operate on its roads beginning in April. Previously, a safety driver was required to be behind the wheel during autonomous tests.
There is intense competition between the two states for automotive companies that drive cars. Arizona has fewer regulations, but most of these companies are based in California. Even so, California requires companies to obtain a permit and file annual reports on software disconnections. Arizona requires zero public disclosures.
Arizona prides itself on "being part of innovation and trying to stay out of innovation," said Kevin Beisty, deputy director of policy at the Arizona Department of Transportation, at a public forum in Washington, DC, on Thursday.