Uber has yet to have a year in the black, but that hasn’t stopped it from effectively paying an Amazon-backed tech startup to take over its autonomous car development program, Uber ATG.
In a bid to rid itself of a program that’s brought it nothing but trouble, Uber has effectively paid Aurora Innovation $400 million to take over its self-driving car effort. The deal spells the end of a five-year effort by Uber to develop an autonomous driving system that promised to give the ride-hailing service’s profitability a huge boost.
The startup was founded in 2017 and has focused on building the underlying technologies necessary for self-driving cars to navigate without a human driver. It’s backed by venture capital firm Sequoia Capital as well as Amazon.
Then in 2019, a former Uber executive, Anthony Levandowski, pleaded guilty to nearly three dozen charges of intellectual property theft related to Otto, a self-driving car startup he sold to Uber in 2016. Levandowski had previously headed up Waymo, Google’s self-driving car effort.