Uber expects a long wait before self-driving cars dominate

Reuters ) – Uber expects it to take a long time before one of its biggest investments, self-driving cars, is ready for extensive rollout, a senior researcher said Monday as Raquel Urtasun, a lead researcher at Uber Advanced Technologies Group ( ATG) and head of the Group's unit in Toronto, talked about the self-challenge challenges of a Reuters Newsmaker event. in New York.

"Self-driving cars are going to be in our lives. The question of when is not clear yet," said Urtasun. "To have it scale, it will take a long time."

The more cautious tone marks a change from Three years ago, when Uber embraced aggressive tactics to turbocharge his autonomous vehicle development to get more robot taxis on the street, the company had been seen as an industry leader in the technology of one of its autonomous SUVs killing a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona. , in March last year.

Urtasun's comments coincide with the rest of the self-propelled industry which, after much hype and bold promises, has tempered expectations and pushed out distribution timelines, the extreme technical challenges of building cars that can predict human behavior and respond. In the right way, it turned out to be greater than any of the industry's brightest thoughts had expected.

The progress of Uber's self-driving car is in focus when companies It is preparing to kick off its original public offer this year. Uber, whose loss before tax, depreciation and other expenses was $ 1[ads1].8 billion last year, has at times spent nearly $ 200 million in a single quarter on the self-propelled unit, sources said.

Uber, last valued at $ 76 billion in the retail market, is seeking a valuation as high as $ 120 billion in its stock market listing and may turn off its investor roadshow before the end of April, Reuters reported.

"It is true that when you go to an IPO, much more looks at your finances," says Urtasun. "That being said, again because Uber understands that self-driving cars in the goal are not something to happen tomorrow, they understand the need for science. "

Urtasun refused to give any guidance on what mix of human-powered cars and autonomous cars Uber will have for the next 10 years referring to too many uncertainties in the industry.

" It is clear that in one The 10-year timeframe will be a mix of both (self-propelled and human-controlled cars), "she said.

Uber seeks partners

The business of building self-propelled cars is extraordinarily expensive, and the timeframe for payouts is increasingly uncertain However, some consider Uber's ability to navigate the transition to autonomous vehicles as critical to the company's long-term economic prospects.

Removing drivers and adding automation will allow Uber to pocket the full price that passengers pay and create more efficient routes to move around people and packages.

Uber opened ATG in Toronto in 2017 and was named Urtasun, also a lecturer at the University of Toronto, as head of the Toronto organization. Uber said last year it would invest more than $ 150 million in Toronto to increase its driving, opening an engineering hub and expanding its work into artificial intelligence.

After the fatal Arizona crash, Uber removed their autonomous cars from the road, laid off hundreds of test drivers and shuttered operations in Arizona, its testing hub. Uber resumed very limited testing on public roads in Pittsburgh in December.

Uber has recently taken a more collaborative approach, and invited General Motore's self-propelled Cruise and Alphabet's Waymo to put their cars at Uber's equestrian center. Urtasun said on Monday that Uber urged all self-propelled companies to place their cars on the Uber network.

"We have been very open to wanting all other companies to be in our (autonomous vehicle) network," said Urtasun.

A group of investors led by SoftBank and Toyota are negotiating to invest $ 1 billion or more in Uber's self-propelled vehicle unit, Reuters reported last month.

Previously, Toyota invested $ 500 million to develop self-driving cars with uber.

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