One of the highest-profile, and most legally fraught, efforts to beat the competition into the autonomous vehicles market is now defunct.

2 minute read

December 8, 2020, 7:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


Cade Metz and Kate Conger report:

Uber, which spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a self-driving car project that executives once believed was a key to becoming profitable, is handing the autonomous vehicle effort over to a Silicon Valley start-up, the companies said on Monday.

Uber will also invest $400 million in the start-up, called Aurora, so it is essentially paying the company to take over the autonomous car operation, which had become a financial and legal headache. Uber is likely to license whatever technology Aurora manages to create.

The announcement means the end for Uber's play for the autonomous vehicle market, according to the article, and indicates that companies still competing in this space face significant obstacles before the industry will be ready to scale.

When autonomous vehicles do finally hit the road, they might be less for private use and ride-hailing services, and more for delivery trucks. Aurora’s chief executive, Chris Urmson is cited in the article saying the company's technology focuses on self-driving trucks, in fact.

The article includes a tight summary of the travails of Uber's autonomous vehicle research: "Among self-driving car projects, Uber’s effort, which led to the death of a pedestrian in Arizona; a lawsuit from Waymo, the self-driving car company owned by the same parent company as Google; and a guilty plea from a former Uber executive accused of stealing intellectual property, was particularly fraught."

Monday, December 7, 2020 in The New York Times

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