The status of Uber's driverless program remains a big unknown amid the company's recent woes, but a reported multibillion-dollar shot in the arm by Japanese tech giant Softbank could change all that.
Softbank has approached Uber unilaterally about offering to purchase a multibillion-dollar stake in the troubled ride-hailing company and is in direct negotiations with Uber about a potential deal, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Citing unnamed sources, any deal with Uber is contingent on Uber finding a new CEO, following Uber's ex-CEO and founder Travis Kalanick's recent departure from the company, according to the report.
Softbank's purchase of a stake in Uber would follow its investments in Asia's three-largest ride-hailing services: Singapore-based GrabTaxi Holdings, the Indian firm Ola, and China-based Didi Chuxing Technology.
Obviously, the degree to which any minority stake purchase would help to fund Uber's driverless program remains to be seen. Uber has also neither confirmed nor denied it is continuing to test its self-driving car fleet in Pittsburgh and elsewhere when queried by Driverless about the status of its program.
Amid Uber's legal woes with Waymo over its alleged theft of trade secrets and sexual harassment lawsuits files by former employees, the exact status of Uber's driverless program amid its woes remains a big question mark. Officially, Uber continues to test its Ford Fusion driverless cars using technology at the heart of the Waymo lawsuit, but that does not exclude the possibility that the program is on hold.
Meanwhile, the status of Uber's driverless initiative will likely be revealed during the weeks to come when a new CEO comes onboard and outlines the company's future direction. The new appointment may also coincide with an announcement about an ownership stake Softbank may plan to take in the company.
General Motors (GM) CEO Mary Barra says GM will update its EV models' software by sending over-the-air (OTA) updates by 2020. Barra did not offer any details about how making OTA updates will improve GM's self-drive systems, including those belongings to its driverless car subsidiary Cruise Automation, while Tesla's continued improvements to its Autopilot serve as a likely example of how GM's updates will work.