Uber is planning to shut down its self-driving truck operations in order to devote its entire attention to self-driving cars. The ride-hailing firm, which acquired self-driving truck company Otto in 2016, had earlier wanted to blend self-driving and manual trucking services by using the former for long-distance trips and the latter for short-distance ones.
Uber now wants to focus all its efforts on self-driving cars and the company will move its employees in the truck division to its autonomous vehicles unit in suitable roles. Those who cannot be transferred will be offered severance packages. This decision will not affect Uber Freight, a fast-growing booking service that connects truck drivers with carriers.
One of the reasons behind this decision could be the fact that Uber is facing fierce competition in the self-driving car space from companies like Tesla and Waymo, with Waymo’s self-driving cars anticipated to hit the road this year. In addition to Waymo and Tesla, several other car companies are making significant investments in autonomous vehicles. Self-driving cars are expected to change the face of the ride-sharing industry while helping in reducing costs.
Uber is facing fierce competition in the self-driving car space from companies like Tesla and Waymo
Uber’s self-driving car plans have already hit several roadblocks, the worst one being the fatal accident involving a pedestrian in Arizona, which led to Uber being denied permission to test in the state. Following the incident, Uber had to suspend all its self-driving programs, which resumed only recently. Uber also had to face a lawsuit from Waymo on grounds of proprietary technology theft, which the cab company managed to settle quickly.
In the world of self-driving technology, trucks are believed to have good opportunities as it is easy to travel on remote highways than populated roads within towns and cities. There is a chance that Uber might return to this space anytime in the future.