Uber is set to acquire Otto, a startup that’s been working on developing self-driving trucks. Uber is in the midst of expanding its own fast-growing autonomous division.
Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, is a former Google employee who has been working on autonomous driving for years, and he will now be in charge of Uber’s entire self-driving division. One of Otto’s goals is to turn commercial trucks into self-driving freight haulers. Instead of building its own self-driving trucks, the company is looking to build hardware kits for existing truck models.
The eventual goal for this technology is to implement it into a cargo service for long-haul trucking. It will be designed to work with Uber’s current intracity delivery services. Uber has made no announcement if it plans to compete with the larger integrators, but it’s easy to see how that sort of program could complement the company’s other offerings.
Travis Kalanick, CEO and Co-Founder of Uber, said they will work on self-driving technology across three sectors: personal transportation, delivery, and trucking, leveraging both its ongoing robotics research. He also reiterated the safety aspects of autonomous driving. “In the US, traffic accidents are a leading cause of death for people under 25,” Kalanick said, “This is a tragedy that self-driving technology can help solve.”