Uber gives up robotaxi development

December 08, 2020 //By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Uber gives up robotaxi development
Autonomous driving is one of the key technologies for future mobility. Nevertheless, ride hailing and mobility servcices provider Uber is throwing in the towel when developing self-driving vehicles.

According to media reports, Uber plans to sell its Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), which bundles the activities for the development of autonomous cars, to the start-up company Aurora Tech (Palo Alto, Calif). The move is not really a sale, because Uber is also paying Aurora $400 million for it. But it is also not a complete withdrawal from the difficult and costly business of developing autonomous vehicles, as Uber is taking a 26 percent stake in Aurora.

According to reports, the reason for this business is the high costs - ATG allegedly devoured more than one million dollars a day. These costs are now being borne by Aurora, although the start-up, which was founded in 2017, can unleash certain synergy effects. However, the focus of Aurora's activities is on the development of self-driving trucks. Aurora, however, is funded by venture capital heavyweights such as Greylock Partners, Sequoia Capital and others. The company concentrates on the hardware and software stack required for the automatic control of vehicles; the vehicles as such are supplied by partner companies.

Aurora's founder is Chris Urmson, a veteran of autonomous driving. Urmson is reported to have previously led Google's autonomous car project before that activity was spun off into Google's Waymo company.

Uber's activities to develop robotics have been ill-fated. In 2018, a test drive resulted in an accident in which an innocent pedestrian was killed. Although the control computer of the Uber vehicle correctly recognized the person more than 5 seconds before the collision, it did not initiate evasive action or braking. The safety driver had also failed to intervene. Uber then had to stop the test drives.

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Study: Battle for the future of the car is coming to a head


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