Ocado, which launched 17 years ago and makes deliveries from a string of warehouses across the country, has just started testing its first self-driving "CargoPod" truck built by U.K. tech firm Oxbotica. It's designed primarily for short journeys or last-mile deliveries in urban or residential areas, taking relatively small orders to customers rather than weekly or monthly supplies. While Oxbotica is focusing on last-mile deliveries, the likes of Waymo and Uber are developing self-driving trucks big ones to transport large amounts of goods over much greater distances. Uber, meanwhile, last year drove a semi full of Budweiser along more than 100 miles of freeway using driverless technology developed by Otto, a tech company that it purchased for $680 million in 2016.
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has resigned from the ride-sharing service he co-founded, another twist in a rough year for the company. There's also a court battle stemming from allegations that Uber stole trade secrets from Waymo, Alphabet's (GOOGL) self-driving car development company. Waymo alleges that Anthony Levandowski - a former top manager for Google's self-driving car project - stole pivotal technology from Google before leaving to run Uber's self-driving car division. Uber's board releases Holder's recommendations, which include removing some of Kalanick's responsibilities and replacing Uber's chairman and founder, Garrett Camp, with an independent chairman.
Waymo, the self-driving car developer created by Alphabet's (GOOGL) Google, has accused Uber of using stolen trade secrets in its own software that would serve as the backbone of autonomous vehicles. Waymo's lawsuit maintains that Uber then transplanted the intellectual property allegedly stolen by Levandowski into its own fleet of self-driving vehicles -- a charge that Uber has adamantly denied since Waymo filed its complaint in federal court four months ago. The filing asserts that Levandowski destroyed the disks containing Google's material not long after Kalanick told him that Uber didn't want the information on them. Kalanick resigned as Uber's CEO Tuesday week after investors demanded he step down.
The move coincided with the release of former Attorney General Eric Holder's report on allegations of harassment throughout Uber's ranks. Uber released the list of recommendations provided by Holder's law firm, saying the company's board of directors will adopt all of the changes. The leadership team will run Uber's day-to-day operations while Kalanick is away. The investigations began after a former Uber employee wrote a blog post in February accusing managers of dismissing her complaints of sexual harassment.
Uber's self-driving cars will return to California's streets, though the ride-hailing company doesn't immediately plan to pick up passengers. Uber received a permit Wednesday to test two Volvo SUVs on public roads, the California Department of Motor Vehicles said. The pilot program caught the state -- and San Francisco city officials -- off guard. With the approval, Uber becomes the 26th company to have a self-driving car testing permit in California.
SAN FRANCISCO – California regulators warned ride-hailing company Uber on Wednesday that it would face legal action if it did not immediately stop giving people in San Francisco rides in self-driving cars -- until it receives permission from the state. Uber started a public pilot program in the morning, and hours later, the California Department of Motor Vehicles sent a letter saying that the service was illegal until Uber got a permit required for putting "autonomous vehicles" on public roads. "If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action," the letter said without elaborating. The Wednesday launch in Uber's hometown expands a deployment of the cars it started in Pittsburgh in September.
The Uber-owned, self-driving semi-truck developer last week completed a 120-mile Budweiser beer delivery across Colorado without a driver behind the wheel. The big rig, equipped with an array of camera, radar and LIDAR sensing technology, then proceeded to drive itself along I-25 between Fort Collins and Colorado Springs at an average speed of 55 mph, using GPS and hyper-accurate digital maps created on a scouting run to guide the way. Uber, which recently announced plans to enter the on-demand shipping business with a new division called Uber Freight, also has been testing a semi-autonomous cars in Pittsburgh that are currently able to drive themselves about 70 percent of the time as the technology undergoes development. As for this first autonomous delivery, Budweiser created 45,000 specially-designed cans to commemorate the event and put them on sale in local stores.