Uber’s 2015 Expectations
Five years ago, Uber had grand aspirations for self-driving taxi technology which would allow them to eliminate their drivers lowering labor costs and reducing wait times.
On Monday, Uber announced they were selling off their self-driving division to Aurora, a California based self-driving vehicle company.
Uber’s announcement is essentially an admission of failure or at least an admission that self-driving cars will take longer to develop than expected.
What Problems Did Uber Have?
Uber never proved that it could develop a safe and fully-autonomous vehicle. The death of an Arizona woman in 2018 demonstrated that Uber’s technology could not be left unsupervised. This need to retain human supervision defeats Uber’s whole rationale for self-driving cars — labor reduction.
Uber responded to it weak competitive position by stealing the technology of one of its main rival- Google’s Waymo. Google sued Uber and the Google employee whom Uber recruited was sentenced to 18 months in prison.
New Reality: What is Uber’s New Plan?
The company that Uber is selling its self-driving technology too has ties with a fleet of car companies like Toyota, Hyundai, and Chrysler. Uber hopes to monetize its technology through an indirect partnership with these companies.
Hopes for self-driving taxis are not dead, but Aurora expects them to come more slowly than expected, arriving after self-driving trucks are deployed. Uber announced they will invest $400 million in Aurora and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will take a seat on Aurora’s board.