Uber has sold its self-driving car division to autonomous vehicle startup Aurora, ending a five-year period of developing self-driving cars that has been plagued by lawsuits and a fatal accident.
Uber will buy a 26% stake in Aurora and invest in it for $400 million, as the two companies have signed a strategic partnership with the aim of deploying self-driving cars on the Uber app with the support of Aurora.
Uber’s efforts in self-driving technologies date back to 2015 when it brought together about 40 researchers in Pittsburgh from Carnegie Mellon University, and that division of the company, called Uber ATG (Advance Technology Group), has grown to 1,000 employees later after founding it.
Currently, Uber expects, after laying off 25% of its staff due to the pandemic, that the deal will reduce its expenses and contribute to the success of its plan to achieve profits after deducting expenses in 2021, and in 2016 Uber assembled the team of its self-driving department when it purchased Otto, a self-driving truck startup.
In February 2017, Google’s self-driving company Waymo sued Uber for allegedly stealing trade secrets and intellectual property rights, and Uber lost the lawsuit after it was settled in February 2018 by Waymo’s acquisition of $245 million of Uber stock, and a month later, Uber was exposed another blow to the self-driving field when one of the company’s test vehicles collided and killed a pedestrian in Arizona.
According to statistics, about 35,000 American citizens die due to road accidents every year, and self-driving technology companies believe that it will greatly improve the reality of safety, and the CEO of Aurora said that the Uber ATG security system was one of the reasons for his interest in the deal, and the partnership with Uber is a link between Aurora and automaker Toyota, which previously invested in Uber ATG, and the deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, while Uber shares saw a drop of less than 1% after markets closed on Monday.