Uber is a highly controversial figure in the self-driving car industry. In 2018, one of the company’s self-driving vehicles was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian. Though Uber was ultimately not found at fault in the matter (its safety driver was), the incident still cast a long shadow over the company’s autonomous car ambitions.
Even two years later, it seems that shadow is becoming too much for Uber to bear. A new report from TechCrunch claims that the company is “in talks” to sell its Advanced Technologies Group to one of its rivals, Aurora Innovation.
Obviously, there are other reasons Uber might be looking to sell ATG, but it’s hard to believe that its past controversies aren’t a strong factor there. It’s difficult for any company to regain the public’s trust after lethal incidents, and trust is exactly what a self-driving car company needs to thrive.
As a side benefit, selling off ATG would allow Uber to trim down expenses and refocus its operations on what it does best: offering freelance ride-sharing and product delivery services to customers across the US.
Aurora is not as well-known a company as, say, Waymo or Tesla (two other major players in the self-driving car industry), but it clearly has enough capital to catch Uber’s eye here.
If some sort of agreement is reached between Aurora and Uber, we’re not sure how much it’d be worth. TechCrunch says ATG was valued at $7.25 billion well over a year ago, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that number has shrunk over time due to Covid-19 difficulties and ATG’s relative lack of progress compared to some of its competitors.
At any rate, if this deal goes through, we’ll certainly let you know. Until then, feel free to treat this news as a rumor.