Uber's self-driving trucks unit is closing up shop not long after it seemed the division was just getting underway. Instead, Uber will be refocusing its efforts on developing self-driving cars, according to TechCrunch. The move comes as Uber recently resumed testing its fleet of autonomous vehicles following a fatal crash in Arizona earlier this year. Uber's self-driving trucks unit is closing up shop not long after it seemed the division was just getting underway. Uber Freight, a version of its app that helps truckers book cargo hauls, won't be affected as a result of the announcement.
Uber is folding its self-driving truck program, the company confirmed Monday, to focus exclusively on building its own self-driving passenger car technology. "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, said in a statement provided to ZDNet. Back in March, Uber halted its self-driving car tests in every city in the US after a pedestrian in Arizona was killed by an Uber car operating in autonomous mode. Just last week the company announced it would resume testing its self-driving cars in Pittsburgh -- but in manual mode, with a human driver always in control. Uber launched its self-driving truck division with the 2016 acquisition of Otto.
The big apple's traffic is getting much much worse thanks to carpooling services like Uber and Lyft. Uber has been using its self-driving trucks to transport goods in Arizona. SAN FRANCISCO -- What a long, strange trip it's been for Uber's self-driving truck division. The ride-hailing company announced Monday that it was, for now, parking its effort to develop commercially viable self-driving trucks in order to focus on bringing autonomous cars to its service. "We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh," Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement provided to USA TODAY.
Uber's self-driving truck program feels like it just took off, but after a court trial and several major leadership changes, it's been a long road to a dead-end announced Monday. Back in 2016, Uber acquired Otto -- former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski's self-driving truck startup -- and Uber's self-driving truck program was born. Then Levandowski was sued for taking trade secrets from Google and bringing them to Uber in the acquisition. That was mainly about the LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) laser and sensor technology that uses light to help the autonomous vehicles "see" the road and world around them. Levandowski was effectively fired before the whole saga turned into the lengthy Waymo (Google's autonomous vehicles team) v. Uber case, which ended in a $245 million settlement a few months ago.
Uber announced Monday that it would be shutting down its self-driving truck program in order to focus on self-driving cars. In an email obtained by TechCrunch, Uber Advanced Technologies Group head Eric Meyhofer wrote to employees, "I know we're all super proud of what the Trucks team has accomplished, and we continue to see the incredible promise of self-driving technology applied to moving freight across the country. But we believe delivering on self-driving for passenger applications first, and then bringing it to freight applications down the line, is the best path forward. For now, we need the focus of one team, with one clear objective." Uber began developing the program when it acquired the autonomous truck startup Otto in 2016.