Uber to develop self-driving cars, butting heads with Google

The companies look set to become rivals, with Google reportedly building a ride-hailing app

Uber's mobile app.
Uber's mobile app.

Uber is joining forces with Carnegie Mellon University to open a research center that will develop self-driving cars, expanding its business in a new direction and opening a potential rift with Google.

The Uber Advanced Technologies Center, near the CMU campus, will do work primarily on mapping, vehicle safety and "autonomy technology," Uber said Monday.

The technologies should advance Uber's mission of bringing "safe, reliable transportation to everyone, everywhere," the company said.

It may also spark a battle with Google, which already develops self-driving cars and recently started work on its own ride-hailing app that will compete with Uber's, according to a Bloomberg report Monday, which cited one unnamed source.

With competing projects under way, friction between the companies could be brewing. And as Bloomberg notes, that could be bad news for Uber. The company's service is built on Google Maps, and if Uber were to lose access to the software it could be left with a less desirable alternative like Apple Maps or Yahoo Maps.

Google declined to comment on the idea it was developing its own ride-hailing service. It downplayed the idea in a tweet directed at Bloomberg which read: "We think you'll find Uber and Lyft work quite well. We use them all the time."

As for Uber's autonomous vehicles, it didn't give a timeline for when its R&D projects might be ready for commercial use. Google has said the public could be using its self-driving cars in two to five years.

Uber's partnership with CMU will create a forum for it to work with the university's faculty, staff and students, it said, both on campus and at CMU's National Robotics Engineering Center.

The agreement includes funding from Uber for faculty chairs and graduate fellowships, the company said. It has already hired more than 50 scientists from CMU and the robotics center, according to a report in TechCrunch.

It's the latest example of an online company partnering closely with academics to work on advanced technologies. Google, Facebook and Microsoft have all been hiring leading academics to work on fields like artificial intelligence, robotics and computer vision.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

3 skills you need to drive better collaboration

A study published in The Harvard Business Review found the time spent in collaborative activities at work has increased by over 50 per cent in the past two decades. Larger projects; complicated problems; tighter timeframes: These require bigger teams with specialised skillsets and diverse backgrounds, often dispersed globally.

Jen Jackson

CEO, Everyday Massive

Better the bank you know?

In 2018, only 21 per cent of customers believed that banks in general had their customers best interests at heart and behave ethically. Only 26 per cent believed that banks will keep their promises; views cemented further following the Hayne Financial Services Royal Commission.

Carolyn Pitt

Head of account management, Hulsbosch

What 15 years of emotional intelligence told us about youth media audiences

Taking people on an emotional journey through content is the most critical part of being a publisher. Which is why emotion lies at the heart of VICE Media.

Stephanie Winkler

Head of insights, VICE Asia-Pacific

It's a pretty good idea. I think this integration is useful. Don't you agree?

Misty Stoll

Officeworks hops on voice interface bandwagon with Google Assistant integration

Read more

ok. so no RCS support? by the way, RCS is a lot bigger than 5G in terms of marketing and monetisation so y'all should be covering it.

DragoCubed

Optus goes for education with 5G network campaign

Read more

Many companies and individual merchants have shifted their major part of marketing to web marketing services Portland as it weighs fewer ...

Radiata Solutions

6 Ways to ramp up Social Media to Your Web Design

Read more

This is a unique experience! Will be interesting to talk to their managers.

Joyce Harris

​How Krispy Kreme revitalised its brand in a saturated market

Read more

I feel bad for them. It's a shame they are closed now. What do you think about it?

Lisa Deleon

Dick Smith stores set to all close by 30 April

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in