Uber ceases self-driving truck development to focus on cars

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Otto self-driving truck prototype

Otto self-driving truck prototype

Uber will park its self-driving truck development in order to focus more resources on self-driving cars, the company announced Monday.

The ride-hailing giant originally got into the game in 2016 when it acquired a startup by the name of Otto that was developing self-driving technology for trucks. Otto was co-founded by Anthony Levandowski, the former Waymo engineer at the center of a now-settled dispute between Waymo and Uber over stolen technology.

Uber eventually put self-driving trucks into operation on a trial basis in March under its Uber Freight service. Uber Freight, an app that connects truck drivers and shippers, is unaffected by Uber's decision to cease self-driving truck development.

The decision comes as Uber restarts testing its self-driving cars on public roads following the fatal accident in March where one of the cars testing in Tempe, Arizona hit and killed a woman crossing the road. The company is testing its self-driving cars once again in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where the Uber Advanced Technologies Group is located.

“We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh," Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, told USA Today. "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.”

Uber is a bit behind the competition and March's fatal accident is likely to leave some of the public distrustful of the company's self-driving cars, if they ever eventuate. Meanwhile, Waymo is already running a public trial and is on track to start a commercial service for self-driving cars in Phoenix, Arizona this year. Other companies such as nuTonomy and Drive.ai have also started public trials of self-driving cars.

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