(Reuters) – Uber [UBER.UL] will stop developing self-driving trucks that have been hauling cargo on U.S. highways, the ride-hailing company said on Monday, seeking to focus its autonomous-vehicle technology solely on cars.
A partially self driving Uber semi truck at the Mcity autonomous vehicle testing facility in Ann Arbor Michigan, U.S., September 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joseph White
Through its acquisition of Otto in 2016, Uber had sought to disrupt freight hauling with self-driving trucks and Uber Freight, its smartphone app that connects truck drivers and shippers.
Uber Freight, which has seen “rapid” growth, is unaffected by the decision, the company said.
Trucking has been viewed by transportation experts as a natural application for self-driving technology because of the relative predictability of highways compared with busy city streets.
Uber had unveiled plans earlier this year to integrate manual trucking with self-driving trucks by deploying the former for short hauls and the latter for longer distances.
“We believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on (self-driving cars) is the best path forward,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in an emailed statement.
San Francisco-based Uber faces competition from Silicon Valley companies including Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) and Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo as well as traditional automakers such as Ford (F.N) and General Motors (GM.N) in the race to bring self-driving cars to the market.
Uber said it will move employees working on self-driving trucks to other internal roles within autonomous vehicle development.
Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sai Sachin Ravikumar