Uber sells self-driving development to Aurora

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Uber will no longer own the Advanced Technologies group but will invest $540m into its new owner, Aurora.

Uber has sold its self-driving development arm to autonomous technology company Aurora.

Set up by the mobility firm when it hired 40 roboticists from Carnegie Mellon in 2015, the Pittsburgh-based Advanced Technologies offshoot has been bought for an undisclosed sum.

However, Uber will invest $400 million (AUD$540m) into Aurora as part of the deal, taking a 26 per cent stake in the business and working closely with it to research autonomous technology.

Since 2015, Uber has poured more than $1 billion (AUD$1.35bn) into the 1200-person-strong Advanced Technologies group, but its self-driving arm struggled to make the impact that had been envisioned, encountering several high-profile setbacks.

The first came in 2017, when Google-owned self-driving firm Waymo sued Uber for alleged intellectual property theft, ending with the firing of one of Uber’s top employees and the firm losing around $245m (AUD$330m) in stock in a settlement.

Then in 2018, one of its autonomous test cars struck and killed a pedestrian. As a result of the death, Uber was banned from testing in Arizona, one of its three key self-driving testing sites, alongside Pittsburgh and San Francisco.

Despite these difficulties, Uber has remained attractive to investors. One such backer is Toyota, which invested more than $700m in the company in 2018, while Volvo’s partnership with Uber resulted in its XC90 SUV being used in self-driving technology testing programmes.

Aurora was set up in 2017 and made headlines when it attracted investment from Amazon last year. Following Uber’s investment, its valuation is expected to rise to $10bn (AUD$13.5bn).

Will Trinkwon

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