Uber Recruits Some Rich Friends to Drive Its Autonomous Cars

WIRED | 4/19/2019 | Aarian Marshall
rubydrummer (Posted by) Level 3
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When Uber publicly filed for initial public offering last week, it cemented its reputation as a technology behemoth with more than a few liabilities. One particularly weighty albatross: its Autonomous Technology Group, which since 2015 has poured hundreds of millions into building self-driving car tech it has yet to commercialize. Make that at least $1 billion. According to the filing, Uber spent $457 million in 2018 on research and development for autonomous vehicles (and its other tech moonshots, like “flying taxis”)—up 19 percent from 2017.

So it was good news for Uber—not to mention the potential shareholders circling its IPO—when it announced Thursday a major investment into its Autonomous Technology Group from a Japanese consortium. The $1 billion infusion comes from Toyota, the automotive supplier Denso, and the Softbank Vision Fund, which is aggressively bankrolling ambitious transportation technology companies. The investment, which values the autonomous tech group at $7.25 billion, will need to be okayed by the US government.

Marshall - Vehicles - Transportation - Policy - Planning

Aarian Marshall covers autonomous vehicles, transportation policy, and urban planning for WIRED.

“The team at Uber ATG has made significant progress developing highly robust automated ridesharing technology,” Softbank Vision Fund CEO Rajeev Misra said in a statement. “With a comprehensive platform of hardware and software, the largest global ride-sharing network and Toyota’s partnership, this collaboration is well-positioned to deploy automated ridesharing services at scale.”

Efforts - Uber - IPO - Filing - Company

Despite those efforts, the Uber IPO filing noted the company’s whole autonomous vehicle venture might still fall flat. “We may fail to develop and successfully commercialize autonomous vehicle technologies and expect that our competitors will develop such technologies before us,” the company wrote. A year ago, Uber pressed pause for nine months on its self-driving testing, after a test autonomous vehicle struck and killed an Arizona woman. Uber says it has since revamped its testing safety protocols.

This week’s $1 billion investment...
(Excerpt) Read more at: WIRED
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