Uber Technologies Inc. is shutting down its self-driving truck program to focus on its autonomous cars instead.
Two years ago, Uber acquired Anthony Levandowski’s self-driving truck startup Otto for an estimated $220 million. Uber later fired Levandowski after allegations from his previous employer, Alphabet’s GOOGL, -1.82% GOOG, -1.51% Waymo, that he stole trade secrets, which resulted in a lawsuit against Uber that was settled in February.
“We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in an emailed statement Monday. “We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh, and as we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”
Uber said it has revamped its approach to self-driving vehicles after one of its cars hit and killed a pedestrian in Arizona in March.
Earlier this month, Uber laid off its autonomous-car test-drivers in Pittsburgh and San Francisco. A handful of self-driving cars returned to driving in Pittsburgh last week, with safety modifications made to the cars and the training of the “mission specialists” who sit in the front seat.
Uber did not say how many employees will be affected by the San Francisco-based truck unit’s closure, but said employees will be offered comparable jobs, and relocation or separation packages in some cases.
The move does not affect Uber Freight, an app that connects truck drivers with shippers.
In March, Lior Ron, a co-founder of Otto who was Uber’s head of freight trucking, left the company.
Uber has been valued at around $62 billion and is said to be preparing for an IPO in 2019. In May, the ride-hailing giant posted massive growth in first-quarter sales, and said it plans to put even more effort into its various business units, such as self-driving cars.