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Technology / Networks

Uber acquires driverless truck start-up Otto for an estimated $680 million

Uber acquired a self-driving trucking company amidst a huge push towards driverless car technology.

A source told Reuters that the deal would be for 1 percent of Uber’s valuation. Using a recent figure for Uber’s value of $68 billion, this would put the deal’s value at around $680 million.

The over 90 employees at Otto would also get a fifth of Uber’s profits from a self-driving trucking business.

Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will report directly to Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and lead the companies’ combined efforts in the self-driving fields.

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“Anthony is one of the world’s leading autonomous engineers: his first invention, a self-driving motorcycle called Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian,” wrote Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. “Just as important, Anthony is a prolific entrepreneur with a real sense of urgency.”

Uber currently offers relatively cheap rides to users of its app, who can hail an Uber vehicle to their location.

These rides are currently provided by human drivers, who receive a large cut of the fee.

In addition, Uber has faced significant legal issues over its attempted classification of drivers as contractors rather than employees, which deprives them of benefits such as paid holiday.

These issues would be solved by moving the fleet to driverless technology.

It was revealed this week that Uber would be introducing self-driving cars in the US city of Pittsburgh in August, Bloomberg reported. The vehicles will initially be supervised by a driver who will act as an observer and take control of the car if required.

Uber also announced that it had signed a $300 million dollar deal with carmaker Volvo. Uber claims to lack the expertise needed to undertake manufacturing, preferring to pass that responsibility onto auto-maker partners.

“Volvo has consistently been a leader when it comes to safety,” wrote Kalanick.“And partnership is crucial to our self-driving strategy because Uber has no experience making cars.

“By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone.”
This article is from the CBROnline archive: some formatting and images may not be present.