November 28, 2020

startup



a car parked on the side of a road: Uber


© Uber
Uber

  • Uber is in talks to sell its self-driving vehicle division, ATG, to autonomous vehicle startup Aurora, TechCrunch reported Friday.
  • ATG has been hobbled by a deadly crash, infighting, and unreliable tech — leading investors to lose patience and sparking rumors the company would try to offload the struggling unit.
  • Despite a previous $7.25 billion valuation, ATG was facing an upcoming investment round that would have valued it at less than that, according to TechCrunch, as Uber has doubled down on its core ride-hailing and food delivery businesses during the pandemic.
  • Aurora, a major player in the AV world, is headed up by former leaders of AV initiatives at Uber, Google, and Tesla.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Uber is looking to get rid of its self-driving vehicle division, Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), and AV startup Aurora Innovation is a likely candidate to acquire it, TechCrunch reported Friday.

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Sources told TechCrunch that Uber “has been shopping” ATG to multiple potential buyers including some automakers, but that talks with Aurora, which began in October, are far along.

“We don’t comment on rumor or speculation,” an Aurora spokesperson told Business Insider, while Uber did not respond to a request for comment.

Despite ambitious goals, ATG has long struggled to make significant progress toward a fully-autonomous vehicle that can safely and efficiently move passengers and goods, while losing money along the way — leading to speculation in recent months that Uber would look to offload the struggling business unit.

According to TechCrunch, ATG was facing a possible “down round,” where investors were considering dropping the division’s valuation from its previous $7.25 billion valuation.

ATG’s struggles

Uber launched ATG five years ago, and in its short life, the division has been plagued by multiple scandals and setbacks, bleeding money along the way — Uber reported $303 million in net losses for “ATG and other technologies” in its third quarter.

Read more: Uber ATG has been hobbled by a deadly crash, infighting, and balky tech — and investors are losing patience with the self-driving division

Employees told Business Insider’s Julie Bort a deadly 2018 crash in Phoenix — the first AV incident to kill a pedestrian —  exposed flaws in ATG’s technology as well as poor decision-making and infighting. (Uber was found not criminally liable for the incident, while the human back-up driver was charged with negligent homicide).

Video: Tesla’s autonomous driving could displace $8 trillion worth of enterprise value in the market: Analyst (CNBC)

Tesla’s autonomous driving could displace $8 trillion worth of enterprise value in the market: Analyst

UP NEXT

UP NEXT

The former head of Uber’s self-driving division, Anthony Levandowski, was also at the center of a massive legal fight between Uber and Google’s self-driving group, now called Waymo, over stolen technology. Uber fired Levandowski, who was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison for trade secret theft, in 2017 after he refused to testify in the case.

In September, The Information reported that an

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Nuro's R2 vehicle.3
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.

Nuro, a self-driving delivery startup, has raised $500 million in its latest funding round.

Nuro’s product fits squarely between the delivery and ecommerce industries that have boomed amid the coronavirus pandemic. The company specializes in developing electric autonomous vehicles that have one purpose: the transportation of products from a storefront to a customer’s homes.

While this isn’t an entirely novel concept, the California-based startup has been able to claim multiple firsts since the company was founded in 2016. Nuro’s second generation vehicle, the R2, is the first autonomous vehicle that’s legally allowed to operate without side mirrors or windshields. The R2 is also the first vehicle to have been autonomously driven in states like California, Texas, and Arizona.

Read more: A cofounder of the Softbank-funded self-driving startup Nuro reveals his plan to make money off delivery robots without charging fees

According to a report by TechCrunch, Nuro now has a $5 billion valuation.
Nuro's R2 vehicle.3
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.

Source: TechCrunch

Its latest $500 million round saw new investors like Baillie Gifford and Fidelity Management and Research, as well as existing investors like Greylock Partners and SoftBank Vision Fund 1.

Nuro driving on public road
Nuro on a public road.

Source: Nuro

The autonomous vehicle can deliver a variety of goods to ease the need for running in-person errands, according to its maker.

Nuro and CVS Pharmacy
Nuro and CVS Pharmacy.



Source: Nuro

This is evident in the array of Nuro’s partnerships, which include grocery delivery with Kroger and Walmart, pizza drop-offs with Domino’s Pizza, and prescription deliveries with CVS.

Nuro and Walmart.
Nuro and Walmart.

The company is now operating in Houston in partnership with Kroger and CVS with the startup’s R2 and first generation vehicle, a self-driving Prius.

Nuro's R2 vehicle.4
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.

Source: Nuro

 

The electric self-driving R2 vehicle is reliant on artificial intelligence and an array of equipment to guide it on the streets.

Nuro's R2 vehicle.4
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.

For example, the R2 is equipped with 12 cameras that provide a 360-degree view of its surroundings.

Nuro driving in traffic
Nuro in traffic.

It also has audio and light detection and ranging (LIDAR) sensors and radars to help the vehicle better orient itself to its surroundings, according to its maker.

Nuro delivers to customers
Nuro dropping off orders to customers.

Source: Nuro

The Nuro vehicles also operate at or under 25 miles-per-hour for safety purposes.

Nuro's R2 vehicle.1
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.



And because there are no passengers or steering equipment, the vehicle is lighter than a typical delivery car.

Nuro departing with an order for delivery
Nuro with a delivery order.

Placing a delivery order with Nuro is similar to ordering food on platforms like DoorDash and Uber Eats.

Nuro's R2 vehicle.2
Nuro’s R2 vehicle.

Customers can make an online or in-app order and select a designated delivery time.

Nuro R1 filled with Dominos Products
Nuro and Domino’s products.

Source: Nuro

The customers can then track the vehicle’s location, and when the order arrives at the destination’s curbside, the user will receive a security code to open the cargo holding compartment.

Nuro and Walmart.gif
Nuro and Walmart.
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