American multinational online transportation firm Uber Technologies Inc. announced that it has acquired ‘Otto’, a technology startup whose aim is to make trucks self-driving. Otto, a 90-person start-up includes former Google and Carnegie Mellon engineers, The New York Times reported.
According to Uber chief executive officer and co-founder Travis Kalanick, Otto was co-founded earlier this year by Anthony Levandowski, an engineer who once worked at Google on self-driving technology and two other former colleagues to equip trucks with software, sensors, lasers and cameras so they will be able to navigate the highway on their own, EFE news reported.
Levandowski will lead “combined self-driving efforts reporting directly to me — across personal transportation, delivery and trucking,” Kalanick said, noting that “when it comes to this advanced technology stack, Otto plus Uber is a dream team” and that “we now have one of the strongest autonomous engineering groups in the world.” The acquisition of Otto follows Uber’s recent opening of an advanced technology centre in Pittsburgh, in conjunction with Carnegie Mellon University, The New York Times reported.
Uber plans to open a 180,000-sq.ft facility in Palo Alto, California, to house Otto, which will operate as a stand-alone company focused specifically on upending the long-distance trucking industry. Otto engineers will also work out of offices in San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Uber will also be able to use Otto’s huge user base to tap into ride data and improve its mapping solution.
On Thursday, Uber also announced that it would begin testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh in few weeks, allowing people in the city to hail modified versions of Volvo sport utility vehicles (SUV) to get around the city. However, the self-driving revolution has already hit a few speed bumps. The electric-car maker Tesla is under investigation by federal regulators looking into a fatal crash in May of a Tesla Model S sedan whose driver had the vehicle’s Autopilot assisted-driving system engaged.