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21st of November 2018

Automotive



Uber to spend $150 million in Toronto on engineering, self-driving cars

SAN FRANCISCO -- Uber Technologies Inc is investing heavily to open an engineering hub and expand its self-driving car operations in Toronto, the strongest indication yet that the company is not retreating from autonomous vehicle development despite recent setbacks.

CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said on Thursday that Uber will invest more than $150 million over five years to bolster the ride-hailing company's engineering capabilities, with a new office opening in early 2019, and expand its work in artificial intelligence. The company expects to hire hundreds of new employees, boosting its overall headcount in Toronto to more than 500.

The investment will allow Uber to expand its work on self-driving technology, an area where the company has lagged competitors. Uber opened a self-driving r&d center in Toronto last year, and named University of Toronto associate professor Raquel Urtasun as head of the organization.

However, Uber's self-driving car business stalled after one if its autonomous SUVs killed a pedestrian in Tempe, Ariz., in March. Uber quickly removed its robot cars from the road, laid off hundreds of test drivers and shuttered operations in Arizona, its autonomous testing hub.

Since the Tempe crash, Khosrowshahi, who took over Uber a year ago, has explored options that include more partnerships with companies developing autonomous cars and a potential sale of the self-driving business, sources have told Reuters. The investment in Toronto is a strong signal that Uber will continue to build its own self-driving technology, at least in the near term.

It also follows a $500 million investment from Toyota Motor Corp. to jointly work on developing self-driving vehicles, providing Uber with a needed boost.

However, the company still faces battles with regulators and local officials who have raised concerns over the safety of Uber's program.

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