Uber’s self-driving car unit is eating into the bottom line of the peer-to-peer ridesharing giant, accounting for up to one-third of its quarterly losses, according to reports.
The Information reveals Uber is allocating between $125 million and $200 million each quarter towards the floundering autonomous vehicle project in the last year and a half — equating to 15 percent and 30 percent of the San Francisco company’s quarterly losses. A handful of investors are said to be urging Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshah to “divest,” entirely from the unit, which has received $2 billion in funding in the last 36 months.
In July, Uber announced it was terminating Pittsburgh-based employees of its self-driving car unit after suspending autonomous vehicle operations in the city. Employees of the peer-to-peer ridesharing giant were told approximately 55 “mission specialists,” tasked with compiling an in-depth analysis of Uber’s test-track operations, would replace the city’s nearly 100 “autonomous vehicle operators.”
Speaking about the move, an Uber public relations representative told Quartz: “Our team remains committed to building safe self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the coming months.” On March 18, an Uber vehicle in autonomous mode struck and killed cyclist Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, prompting the technology company to suspend self-driver operations in Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Tempe, and Toronto. Uber subsequently fired 300 employees of its self-driving car division in the Grand Canyon State.
“A Tempe police report released in June deemed the crash “entirely avoidable.” Tempe detectives believe that the safety driver involved in the incident, Rafaela Vasquez, was likely distracted watching NBC talent show The Voice on her phone at the time of the collision,” Quartz reported.
Uber received backlash from Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto after he allegedly first learned through social media of reports that the company, despite the deadly crash, aimed to continue operating its driverless car unit in the city.
“I made it clear to Uber officials after the Arizona crash that a full federal investigation had to be completed, with strong rules for keeping streets safe, before I would agree with the company to begin testing on Pittsburgh streets again,” the mayor said in a statement.