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Otto File photo
Otto had been one of the earliest companies involved in real-world testing of autonomous trucks. Uber bought the company in 2016.

Uber halts development of self-driving trucks

Uber announced it was halting efforts to develop autonomous trucks, a decision that will not affect its ongoing Uber Freight division that matches available loads with truck drivers through a smartphone app.

Uber said it will continue developing self-driving  cars, but has shut down the truck unit initially known as Otto. It made a splash in October 2016 when it made a 120-mile autonomous delivery of Budweiser in Colorado.

"We believe having our entire team's energy and expertise focused on (self-driving cars) is the best path forward," Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in a statement.

Uber acquired Otto in 2016 from Anthony Levandowski, a former engineer in Google’s car division. However, Google filed a lawsuit claiming he stole trade secrets and technology. Levandowski left Uber well before the case was settled last year.

Employees who had been working in the truck unit will be moved to other internal roles within autonomous vehicle development, Uber said.

Earlier this year, a woman in Arizona was killed when she was struck by an Uber passenger car in autonomous mode. The company is just beginning to resume new testing.

TAGS: Business
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