Uber Narrowing Scope Of Self-Driving Operations

Uber seems to be narrowing the scope of operations related to its development and deployment of self-driving technology. The company and its CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, were completely committed to the idea that self-driving technology was Uber's future not too long ago, but a fatal crash involving a jaywalking pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona seems to have changed everything. The company has since scaled back testing and shut down in many areas, gotten rid of its self-driving truck division, and opened itself to hardware and software partnerships. Just a few months ago, Khosrowshahi was talking about the benefits the company could reap from owning and operating both the software and hardware ends of its self-driving business.

In the current state of affairs, the company is looking to break back into previous testing areas, with a more tentative eye on new markets. As a result pf Uber shutting down self-driving truck operations to focus on the core technology, Don Burnett, a key member of that department and a co-founder of Otto, left to start his own self-driving truck company, called Kodiak. Uber's vehicles, meanwhile, carry all of the usual sensors, but have a human in control behind the wheel. This means that the cars will be getting data on what it's like to navigate the roadways and will be able to make predictions and observations based off of that, but they won't get the same training that they would get if they were making the decisions themselves. The cars are still getting trained to think and act for themselves in simulations, which reportedly are being used on an increased scale since the fatal crash.

Recent developments seem to imply that Uber has all but lost its original vision and set of goals for self-driving cars, and is currently hard at work figuring out how to get past obstacles to research, development and testing. The company is more open than ever to all sorts of outside interference and input in its operations, though it's worth noting that ​​Khosrowshahi has outright discounted the possibility of selling Advanced Technologies Group, the arm of Uber that's responsible for self-driving technology development. The company has made a large amount of layoffs and cuts in recent months, and has also seen some of its top talent walk away. At this point, Uber's prospects of keeping up with the fierce competition in the self-driving space seem dubious, and only time will tell if the company can pull itself out of this rut.

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