A recent report from the Information details internal turmoil at Uber surrounding the company’s $2.5 billion investment in self-driving cars, which has yet to produce any usable products.
A report from The Information titled “Infighting, ‘Busywork,’ Missed Warnings: How Uber Wasted $2.5 Billion on Self-Driving Cars,” outlines how Uber invested billions of dollars to develop self-driving cars yet is nowhere near ready to launch an autonomous vehicle that can reliably drive for any length of time.
Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, the division focusing on self-driving vehicles, has faced issues of infighting and setbacks according to the Information. This has lead to fears that rival autonomous vehicle makers like Google’s Waymo and Apple’s self-driving division may soon outpace Uber’s progress.
Uber’s team began researching self-driving cars in 2015, but despite studying the area long before many other companies making progress in the sector, Uber’s self-driving car “doesn’t drive well” and “struggles with simple routines and simple maneuvers,” a manager in the unit told CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. The manager reportedly said: “The talent is still here to get this job done, but the belief is waning.”
The manager reportedly raised the issue as they believe that the company “has simply failed to evolve and produce meaningful progress in so long that something has to be said before a disaster befalls us.” The report claims that managers within the group have competing philosophies with members from the aerospace and government industries focusing mainly on safety while engineers feel that progress is moving too slow.
In March 2018, Breitbart News reported that one of Uber’s self-driving vehicles hit and killed a woman in Phoenix while undergoing testing of the vehicle’s road capabilities. 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg was walking a bicycle outside the lines of a crosswalk when the self-driving vehicle operated by safety driver Rafaela Vasquez hit Herzberg hit and killed her. The company voluntarily suspended their tests in Arizona, California, Pittsburgh, and Toronto following the crash. Uber stated that it chose not to re-apply for a license in California “with the understanding that our self-driving vehicles would not operate in the state in the immediate future.”
Engineers at Uber reportedly feel that the company “overcorrected” following the accident and “want to go back to the… fatality days,” one team member said.
Read the full report at the Information here.