Uber Ends Its Self-Driving Truck Program And Shifts Focus To Autonomous Cars

Uber on Monday announced it has ended its self-driving truck program and will shift all focus toward its autonomous cars division. Uber signage is pictured as an employee stands in the entrance of the ride-hailing giant's office in Hong Kong on March 10, 2017. Photo: Anthony Wallace /Getty Images

By Andrew N. White, International Business Times

Uber on Monday announced it is shutting down its self-driving trucks unit and will shift its focus toward further developing self-driving cars.

The ride-sharing giant said it would keep all employees in the truck program and shuffle them to its autonomous car division. Uber Freight, a program that helps truckers find jobs, also won’t be affected by the closure.

Uber's Advanced Technology Group will keep its ties with truck manufacturers, the company said. It will also continue to develop LiDAR, its light detection and range radar technology, which measures distances using laser light to render 3D maps of the area around the vehicle for navigation purposes. The company’s self-driving trucks unit is based in San Francisco while its antonymous cars team works out of Pittsburgh.

[post_ads]“We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement, according to the Verge. "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.”

Uber unveiled its plans in 2017 to combine manual trucking with self-driving trucks by having the drivers take on shorter distances and having autonomous trucks travel longer distances. The company acquired autonomous trucking start-up Otto in 2016 for $680 million and began testing its self-driving trucks shortly after.

Uber has tested its trucks on roads in Arizona, California and its facility in Pittsburgh.

Uber has had troubles with its self-driving vehicles in the past. In March, one of its self-driving cars reportedly struck and killed a 49-year-old woman who was crossing the street in Tempe, Arizona. It immediately put a pause on the cars while federal investigators sought answers as to why the crash occurred. On July 11, Uber announced it had fired 100 Uber employees who drove its self-driving cars.

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