Uber halts development of self-driving trucks

1 MinutesBy NZ Trucking magazineAugust 2, 2018

Uber has announced it will stop developing self-driving trucks and will instead focus its attention on autonomous technology for cars.

“We believe having our entire team‘s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward,” said Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, in an emailed statement.

In July 2016 Uber bought self-driving truck manufacturer Otto, founded in part by ex-Google engineer Anthony Levandowski, for $65 million.

Two months later, in a blaze of media attention, Uber had a self-driving truck driving about 195 kilometres on a highway route in Colorado with a trailer full of Budweiser.

The purchase of Otto became controversial the following year when Google‘s self-driving brand Waymo filed a lawsuit claiming Levandowski stole trade secrets and technology. He was dismissed and the case was settled last year.

In March this year Uber suspended self-driving car tests in all North American cities after an accident that left a pedestrian dead. Police said the person in the vehicle was watching television at the time of the accident.

Job losses are uncertain, but Meyhofer said that employees working on self-driving trucks would be moved to other internal roles within autonomous vehicle development.

Uber Freight, a business unit that helps truck drivers connect with shipping companies, is unaffected by this decision.