WHY THIS MATTERS IN BRIEF
As Uber faces challenges on multiple fronts the company has had to take the hard decision to double down on strategic bets.
Two years after Uber bought self-driving truck developer Otto for $680 million, the ride hailing company has announced that the Uber Advanced Technologies Group, their R&D arm, is shuttering its autonomous truck unit which ran a successful trial early last year. The company remains committed to further developing its self-driving car platform, which killed a pedestrian earlier this year. Uber Freight, a separate service that helps connect shipping companies with drivers, is being spared though.
“We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars. We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh, and as we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward,” Eric Meyhofer, Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, which opened its first dedicated AI lab last year, said in an E-Mailed statement.
As recently as this past March, Uber was hard at work furthering the self-driving truck technology in Arizona, where the vehicles logged thousands of deliveries over the course of months but now all that’s moot.
In an internal E-Mail, first seen by TechCrunch, Meyhofer says that employees affected by the company’s decision will be pivoted to related autonomous projects, such as the ATG’s efforts to build a new in-house LiDAR package, otherwise they’ll have the option to move to the company’s Pittsburg head office, or accept a redundancy package.