Uber’s autonomous rides are going back to sunny California image

The ride-sharing giant has had a few rough months – from criticism about being on the bad side of politics to a legal battle with Google’s Waymo because of alleged stolen LIDAR secrets – but it may be attempting to rectify the course.

The company was driven away out of San Francisco last December because of a showdown with the regulators as it refused to get the requisite state permit for its autonomous vehicle test drive program. Now it has filed for the appropriate paperwork and is mulling a return to California and has also announced it will stop “greyballing,” a process it devised to make it difficult for regulators to sideline it in cities ranging from Boston to Paris. But Uber is still facing numerous challenges – it brought in former U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder, for example to handle a probe of sexual harassment within the mostly male company.

Uber has had a long history of going against regulations – which helped the company enter restrictive markets that traditionally protect existing taxi and limousine services. But the stance is backfiring now, as the company is looking to set up a corporate profile. It also needs to succeed in the new field of autonomous vehicles, with CEO Travis Kalanick foretelling the company will bring to life fleets of fully driverless vehicles, bringing down the cost of a ride so low that consumers would eventually stop buying cars.