Washington DC, USA (CNN) – Uber announced that it will sell its self-driving cars to Aurora, ending 5 years of developing self-driving vehicles, during which it has witnessed lawsuits and a fatal accident.
Uber will acquire a 26% stake in Aurora and will invest $ 400 million in the Silicon Valley startup that makes programs for self-driving vehicles and lists Amazon among its investors.
Chris Ormson, CEO of Aurora, previously led Google’s self-driving car program. Uber and Aurora say they also entered into a strategic partnership to provide autonomous vehicles supported by Aurora on the Uber app.
Uber started the self-driving car project in 2015 in Pittsburgh when it worked with 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon University. The company’s operations in this sector, called the Uber Advanced Technology Group, have grown to include more than 1,000 employees.
Uber believed that the development of self-driving cars was essential to the company’s survival, given that self-driving cars could make human-driven vehicles more expensive.
Uber founder Travis Kalanick said in a 2014 interview at the Code conference that, “If Uber didn’t go in that direction, it wouldn’t exist either way. That’s how the world has evolved. That’s the way technology and advancement are. Unfortunately, We must all find ways to change with the world. “
But now, Uber, which has cut 25% of its employees during the pandemic, expects the deal to cut its costs and contribute to its plan to be profitable except for some costs in 2021.
Uber suffered a blow in its self-driving program in 2017 when one of its test cars collided in Tempe, Arizona, and killed a pedestrian. The Uber test driver, sitting behind the wheel, who was supposed to monitor the car and intervene if needed, was watching a TV program on her phone.
After the accident, Arizona Gov. Doug Doucey suspended Uber’s ability to test state roads. Uber closed operations there in May 2018 and laid off 300 workers, but it continued operations in San Francisco and Pittsburgh.
Not all Uber employees in the Uber Advanced Technologies group will transition to Aurora, including the company’s CEO, Eric Mayhofer. Aurora has committed to making presentations to the majority of Uber’s high-tech group employees, according to an Uber spokesperson.
The deal is expected to close in the first quarter of 2021, according to a spokesperson for Aurora. Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Aurora’s board of directors.