Just two months after a self-driving Uber SUV crashed into 49-year-old Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, killing her, ridesharing giant Uber has announced that it will be shutting down its self-driving operations in the state of Arizona. In a statement released yesterday, the company said that the Arizona division of its self-driving programme would be shut down over the coming weeks, affecting roughly 300 jobs, but not the 500 odd drivers and employees working with the company’s regular taxi-hailing and ridesharing services.
However, Uber also pointed out that it was not completely shutting down its autonomous driving programme, and hoped to resume testing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania later this year. Uber had suspended its self-driving car operations in all locations after the fatal crash in Tempe, but said it will likely return to Pittsburgh and two cities in California later this year, “with smaller routes and fewer cars”. An Uber spokeswoman commented, “We’re committed to self-driving technology, and we look forward to returning to public roads in the near future...In the meantime, we remain focused on our top-to-bottom safety review, having brought on former NTSB Chair Christopher Hart to advise us on our overall safety culture.”
The announcement came even as Uber revealed that its net revenue for the quarter ending March 31, 2018, after accounting for payments to drivers, grew 70 percent year-on-year to $2.6 billion. The company is not publicly listed, so it’s not obliged to reveal quarterly performance, but after years of leaks, it has started releasing information to the press voluntarily. According to the financials provided by the company, Uber had a loss of $312 million in the quarter before interest, taxes, and other expenses, roughly half the loss it posted for the same quarter in 2017.
The company also stated it has $6.3 billion in cash, excluding a $1.5 billion term loan it raised in March this year. Uber sold its Southeast Asian business to Grab and its Russian operations to Yandex in the quarter and estimated the gains from the two deals to be around $2.9 billion. In a statement, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said, “We are off to a terrific start in 2018...Given the size of the opportunity ahead of us and our goal of making Uber a true mobility platform, we plan to reinvest any over-performance even more aggressively this year, both in our core business as well as in big bets like Uber Eats globally.”
In other news, tech giant Apple announced that it had signed a deal with Volkswagen that will see the automaker supply its T6 Transporter vans for the test fleet of Apple’s self-driving programme. The vans will be used as autonomous transport shuttles for Apple employees. Apple previously failed to finalise deals with BMW and Mercedes-Benz after the Cupertino, California-based company refused to divulge data and design details. Apple’s self-driving programme has been the subject of speculation for years, and it looks like the company is finally taking its first steps toward getting the project off the ground.