Uber is reportedly seeking to promote its self-driving division

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Illustration for article titled Uber Could Soon Pawn Off Its Scandal-Ridden Self-Driving Vehicle Branch to Startup Aurora

Photograph: Justin Sullivan (Getty Photos)

Uber is in talks to promote its scandalridden self-driving car department, Superior Applied sciences Group, in response to a Friday TechCrunch report. And it appears like Aurora Innovation, a beginup based by veterans of the autonomous car business, is first in line to scoop up the “prize.”

Sources accustomed to the negotiations advised the outlet that Uber “has been procuring” ATG, which carries the grim distinction of the world’s first recorded fatal self-driving car crash, to a number of potential consumers, and Aurora seems to be the clear frontrunner. Whereas phrases of the deal are nonetheless unknown, sources say negotiations are “far alongside within the course of” and that the 2 corporations have been in talks since October.

Spokespeople for each corporations declined TechCrunch’s request for touch upon the matter. However the transfer would fall consistent with Uber’s current downsizing, spurred partially by the heavy financial hit from the covid-19 pandemic. Up to now this 12 months, it’s bought its e-transportation arm, Jump, and put a $500 million stake in its logistics division, Uber Freight, in the marketplace. And in response to its most up-to-date earnings report, Uber reported $303 million in web losses for its “ATG and different applied sciences” phase within the 9 months that ended September 30, 2020.

So it could make sense that Uber’s seeking to wash its fingers of ATG, and never only for monetary causes. Several incidents, together with a lethal crash in 2018, uncovered critical flaws within the expertise powering Uber’s self-driving autos and left its public picture in tatters. The department’s former head, Anthony Levandowski, was additionally fired amid a large authorized battle between Uber and Google’s self-driving phase, Waymo, over stolen expertise. He was later sentenced to 18 months in prison for commerce secret theft.

In 2019, Uber ATG was valued at $7.25 billion, however sources advised TechCrunch that the division “was going through a possible down spherical,” which can have prompted the corporate to begin searching for consumers. Two of Uber’s greatest traders, SoftBank and Benchmark, have additionally been pressuring the corporate to revamp its self-driving arm and produce in additional outdoors funding, in response to a September Bloomberg report.

Aurora was based in 2017 by three veterans of the autonomous car business who beforehand led applications at Google, Tesla, and Uber. It’s raised greater than $760 million from high-profile traders, together with Amazon, Hyundai, and T. Rowe Worth, per Business Insider. Whereas that sum is nothing to sneeze at, it’s nonetheless a hell of loads lower than ATG’s billion-dollar price ticket, so any deal would possible require bringing in outdoors funding or granting Uber partial fairness within the acquisition.

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