Acquisitions / Autonomous tech

Uber sells self-driving unit to Aurora, with plans to keep Pittsburgh presence

Aurora plans to keep a "majority" of Uber ATG's local team members, a spokesperson said.

An Uber ATG vehicle. (Photo via @UberATG on Twitter)

Uber‘s self-driving unit is under new ownership, but it will be heading to a familiar name for Pittsburgh.

Aurora Innovation is acquiring Uber Advanced Technologies Group (Uber ATG) in a deal announced Monday. With the agreement, Uber will invest $400 million into Aurora and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi will join Aurora’s board. Techcrunch first reported that the companies were in talks about a deal in November.

It marks the end of Uber’s pursuit of autonomous vehicle technology. The company made one of the highest-profile entries into the self-driving car space around 2015, and famously deployed self-driving cars on Pittsburgh streets the next year. For its part, Aurora was founded in 2017 and established its East Coast headquarters in Pittsburgh.

It won’t be the end of the presence of at least some of the Uber team working on the technology in Pittsburgh, which grew to 700 employees in the city. An Aurora spokesperson said the company plans to bring “a majority” of the ATG team members along for the ride. While that doesn’t rule out layoffs, the spokesperson added that “the people of ATG were a key reason for doing this deal.”

Going forward, Aurora indicated in an announcement that it will first focus on a self-driving truck, and not a car.

As for where the team developing those capabilities will be based, Aurora plans to move into new offices in The Strip District next year, and is working through other spaces where employees will work, the spokesperson said.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto released a statement, saying, “The self-driving vehicle industry was born in Pittsburgh and through this agreement will continue to grow here. The industry employs thousands of Pittsburghers directly, and with this purchase Aurora is assuring it will continue to thrive here and Pittsburgh will remain a global technology hub.”

The news is a major development for the city’s self-driving industry, which grew as companies sought to tap into talent out of Carnegie Mellon University. In an October feature published in Pittsburgh, journalist Brian Conway reported on the history of Pittsburgh’s destination status for work on autonomous vehicles and questions about the technology’s readiness. Read it here.

Companies: Uber
Series: Pittsburgh

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