News: Uber Goes North to Expand Driverless Program

Uber Goes North to Expand Driverless Program

Oh, Uber. It's not often to hear your name in the news and have it mean something good. You're being sued, you're crashing, your driverless program is falling behind. But I have to hand it to you; when the world is crumbling around you, you continue to fight against it. You've even made it to Canada.

Yes, Canada, our friendly neighbor to the north. Uber is expanding its self-driving car program to Toronto, the largest city in Canada. Thanks to help from Raquel Urtasun — a University of Toronto associate professor — Uber's driverless research is going international, away from the drama and scorn of the United States.

According to Buzzfeed News, Uber is supplying Urtasun's AI program $5 million, as well as hiring eight of her students. Urtasun isn't phased by Uber's controversial status. In fact, she's more than confident when speaking about the company:

Uber has the advantage of a ride sharing-network, which is going to be one of the competitive edges that will be important to self-driving in the future

— Raquel Urtasun

Urtasun is right. Many of the OEMs racing to be the best in driverless technology have ride-sharing as an end-goal for driverless. Uber already has arguably the strongest ride-sharing platform on the market, which may be the only thing going for the company.

This isn't the first time Uber has hired academics away from schools, as Uber nabbed 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon in 2015. I guess the University of Toronto should be glad this time it was only one professor and a just a handful of students.

Toronto will be the second Canadian city to be the center of the driverless craze. Last week, we learned Stratford in Ontario would be testing self-driving vehicles as well. Looks like Uber has some "friendly" competition on their hands in the region.

Hopefully, a Toronto-expansion can give the company a much-needed boost. Because, to be honest, Uber needs all the help it can get right now.

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Cover image via Jonathan Denney/Unsplash

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