What just happened? Uber has announced the closure of its self-driving trucks project, two years after the $680 million acquisition of Otto. The Uber Advanced Technologies Group will stop development of the autonomous trucks and will instead shift focus to its driverless car segment.
"We've decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars. 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," said Eric Meyhofer, Head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, in a statement.
Google engineers Anthony Levandowski and Lior Ron founded Otto, with the former going on to become head of Uber’s self-driving car division. In 2017, Google’s autonomous car spinoff Waymo filed a lawsuit against Uber, accusing Levandowski of stealing almost 10GB of “sensitive, secret, and valuable internal Waymo information” before leaving and using it to create self-driving platforms at Otto and Uber.
Less than a week after the trial began, the companies reached a settlement that saw Uber agree to pay Waymo $245 million worth of the ride-hailing firm’s private shares at its 2015 valuation. Levandowski had been laid off from Uber before the trial started.
An internal email obtained by TechCrunch states that employees affected by the shuttering will be moved to Uber's other autonomous vehicle projects such as Uber ATG, which is working on in-house LiDAR technology. They could also be relocated to the company’s Pittsburg HQ or offered a separation package.