Published: Wed, August 01, 2018
Markets | By Noel Gibbs

Uber pulling the plug on its self-driving truck operation

Uber pulling the plug on its self-driving truck operation

Uber says it will keep working on self-driving vehicles, but it will now focus exclusively on cars. Despite the work already put into the plan, Uber has chose to change its business focus, shuttering the autonomous truck project in the process.

In March, the firm said it was suspending self-driving vehicle tests in all North American cities after a fatal accident.

The purchase netted Uber the talent of Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski, the engineer who built Google's very first self-driving vehicle.

Uber hits brakes on self-driving trucks
Uber halts development of self-driving trucks

Uber's self-driving trucks were seen on the road as recently as March, where they were contracted to deliver freight in Arizona.

Eric Meyhofer, the head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement: "We've made a decision to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars".

Uber bought Otto, a young startup that was founded by former Waymo employees, for $680 million two years ago.

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In the internal memo sent to employees, the company explained that it would instead double down on its self-driving vehicle efforts. The acquisition caused some trouble for Uber after Google parent-company Alphabet claimed that Otto was a shell company meant to deliver stolen technology by former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski who had worked on Google's own self-driving auto project, Waymo.

Ron and co-founders including Anthony Levandowski, started Otto in early 2016.

An internal email obtained by TechCrunch states that employees affected by the shuttering will be moved to Uber's other autonomous vehicle projects such as Uber ATG, which is working on in-house LiDAR technology.

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While it's abandoning the self-driving truck project, Uber will try to build its Uber Freight business - also called "Uber for Trucking" - which looks to disrupt the freight industry by directly matching truck drivers with shippers.

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