According to the CEO of Uber, robo-taxis that do not require any intervention from human drivers are still between 10 and 15 years old
ATG, its autonomous driving unit, was valued at more than $ 7 billion this 2020, after receiving investment rounds from various brands
Among the technology companies that have put money into this technology project are the automaker Toyota and Softbank Group
It seems that developing vehicles that are driven without any supervision is a very complex mission for Uber to tackle alone. According to ., the CEO of the shared taxi platform, Dara Khosrowshahi, has said that he is seeking allies to work on the development of autonomous driving. The statement came after being asked if it is going to sell its Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) unit, which specializes in that sector.
With this new business philosophy, Uber would even work with companies that the brand now considers rivals in the autonomous driving market. It ensures that, in all future alliances, it could offer other companies a large customer base to monetize. It could also provide valuable data and information on the routes that robo-taxis travel. This, with the express intention of identifying the trips that are in fact more profitable.
It has long been rumored that Uber could exit the race for the development of autonomous driving. This, because ATG is one of its most expensive units, and it is not expected that it will be able to provide the necessary technology for viable robo-taxis for a few years. Khosrowshahi did not directly reject or confirm the sale. However, he said that they are “exploring all the options”, including internal and even external financing.
The union is strength in the development of robo-taxis
Creating a viable autonomous driving platform has proven to be very complex, and not just for Uber. According to The Verge, Hyundai and Aptiv plan to bring level four robo-taxis to Las Vegas through their Motional platform. It is a limited strategy and one that has not been free from criticism. This, because the vehicles will not have a driver behind the wheel and will drive on public roads, which could lead to an accident in the short term.
Beyond the inherent complexity of the technology, the approach Uber just took is interesting. It is very similar to the one Volkswagen has been running for a few months now. In the middle of the year, he announced the creation of an open alliance of automotive companies to create a standardized robo-taxi system. In part, the project’s goal is to join forces and cope with common challenges. But also, it seeks to catch up with the current leader, Tesla.
How viable is Uber’s strategy to play a more secondary role in the autonomous driving market? It might seem negative in the long run for the brand as rivals like Didi are investing heavily in these technologies. But it is also prudent from the business perspective, considering the huge losses that it has registered almost year after year, in data from Statista. An alliance will allow you to continue within this segment, reducing total costs.
Is Uber defeated from autonomous driving?
Several companies have recognized that the development of robo-taxis is not as straightforward as it might have seemed at first. This same year, in June, Mercedes-Benz and BMW completed a project in this market. Like Uber, the decision was made solely for reasons of lack of financial resources. Although the door was left open for future collaborations, it is not entirely clear that there can be a continuation of these research projects.
It’s also worth noting that it’s not the first time that Uber has apparently backtracked on autonomous driving. As early as March, Khosrowshahi not only said that he was open to creating alliances with rivals in the development of robo-taxis. He even said that it could use technology that others had developed in its units. In this way, you could save the total investment in the development of these initiatives and at the same time obtain the benefits for your app.