Uber: Retreating from its grand ambitions

Uber: Retreating from its grand ambitions

Uber hit the brakes on its selfdriving vehicle ambitions after a tumultuous five years, said Cade Metz and Kate Conger in The New York Times. The ride- hailing company said that startup Aurora will “take over its autonomous car operation,” handing off what had “become a financial and legal headache.”

 The effort to “replace Uber’s human drivers with machines” was once considered a “key to becoming profitable.” But like other AV projects that have “received billions in investments,” it struggled to produce the “fleets of robotic vehicles some thought would be on the streets by now.” In March 2018, an Uber vehicle was responsible for “the first pedestrian death associated with self-driving technology.” When Uber went public in 2019, “its ambitions spanned autonomous vehicles, bikesharing, food delivery, freight, and other markets,” said Robert Cyran in BreakingViews.com. But the company is losing about $1 billion a quarter, and is now “shrinking” its ambitions—it already sold its bikes to Lime and is in the process of spinning off its flying-taxi service as well—in order to stem the bleeding. Given the number of other companies pursuing self- driving cars, “it makes sense to exchange a big stake for a smaller one if the odds of success are higher.” But it’s still not clear that Uber’s “increasingly pedestrian” business can be profitable without its long-shot ventures.

 

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