Uber applies brakes on self-driving trucks, refocuses on autonomous cars

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San Francisco, July 31 (IANS) Global cab-hailing platform Uber has stopped developing self-driving trucks and instead will refocus on its autonomous car programme as the truck business was no longer viable in the freight shipping industry, the company announced.

Uber said on Monday that it wants to rejuvenate the self-driving car programme which was halted following a crash in which a Uber autonomous car killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March, reports Xinhua news agency.

“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,” TechCrunch reported, quoting Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, as saying.

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Employees in the San Francisco-based self-driving truck division will be relocated to other internal units, including the Pittsburgh-based self-driving car programme.

Despite the shutdown, Uber Freight, a business unit that helps match truck drivers with shipping companies, will not be affected.

Uber ventured into driverless vehicles in early 2015.

Controversy was aroused when it purchased Otto, a self-driving truck startup founded by a former Google engineer, in 2016.

Google later accused the engineer of stealing confidential files before he left the company.

Uber was embroiled in a lawsuit with Waymo, the former Google self-driving project, that accused former Google engineer Anthony Levandowski of stealing trade secrets related to LiDAR technology.

In March this year, Uber said it was suspending self-driving car tests in the US after a fatal accident in which a 49-year-old woman was hit by a car and killed as she crossed the street in Tempe, Arizona.

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–IANS

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