Uber Technologies Inc has agreed to sell its autonomous vehicle division to Aurora Innovation Inc in a deal that gives the ride-hailing company a stake in the start-up developing self-driving technology, the companies said on Monday.
As part of the deal, Uber is to invest US$400 million in Aurora to merge the teams from both firms seeking to advance the technology for autonomous ride-hailing and is to hold a 26 percent stake in Aurora.
“By adding the people and technology of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group [ATG] to the incredible group we’ve already assembled at Aurora, we’re shifting the landscape of the automated vehicle space,” said Chris Urmson, cofounder and chief executive of Aurora, which has been backed by Amazon.com Inc, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV and Hyundai Motor Co, among others.
The sale of Uber’s autonomous driving unit, which was temporarily stalled several years back after a fatal crash, comes as it streamlines operations to navigate a downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Uber does not appear to be giving up on self-driving vehicles, which have been part of its vision for a profitable ride-share business, but is instead swapping the unit for a stake in Aurora.
“With the addition of ATG, Aurora will have an incredibly strong team and technology, a clear path to several markets, and the resources to deliver,” Urmson said.
“Simply put, Aurora will be the company best positioned to deliver the self-driving products necessary to make transportation and logistics safer, more accessible, and less expensive,” Urmson added.
Along with acquiring ATG, Aurora announced a strategic partnership with Uber to mesh its technology with that of the leading ride-hailing service, the companies said.
The companies expect self-driving technology to be initially put to use for long-haul trucking.
Uber chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi is to join the Aurora board of directors as part of the deal.
The merged firm is to work on technology to be known as Aurora Driver.
“Few technologies hold as much promise to improve people’s lives with safe, accessible, and environmentally friendly transportation as self-driving vehicles,” Khosrowshahi said.
“I’m looking forward to working with Chris, and to bringing the Aurora Driver to the Uber network in the years ahead,” he said.
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