Offering Autonomous Rides and Deliveries
Uber Technologies Inc. is setting new milestones in the ride-hailing and food-delivery industry by teaming up with Alphabet Inc's Waymo. The companies revealed their partnership with the intent to introduce Waymo's self-driving cars on Uber's platform later this year. According to a blog post published on Tuesday, some of these autonomous vehicles will be available to Uber customers for rides and deliveries within a 180-square-mile area in Phoenix, Arizona.
The Challenges of Commercializing Autonomous Vehicles
While the dream of fully autonomous vehicles has been in the works for a while, commercializing them, especially robotaxis, has been a steep climb. The roadblocks include rigid regulations, complex technology, and heavy investments, forcing some companies to reduce their workforce or completely halt operations.
Uber and Waymo's Mutual Benefits
The alliance with Uber offers a substantial opportunity for Waymo to extend its reach. Waymo's co-CEO Tekedra Mawakana noted that Uber's expansive network would allow Waymo to connect with more people, even as the company operates in San Francisco and aims to expand to Los Angeles. On the other hand, Uber views this partnership as a leap forward in realizing its self-driving ambitions, especially as its ride-hailing service returns to pre-pandemic levels. "Fully autonomous driving is quickly becoming part of everyday life, and we're excited to bring Waymo's incredible technology to the Uber platform," stated Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi.
A Look Back at the Uber-Waymo Rivalry
Considering the past rivalry between Uber and Waymo, this partnership signifies a notable turning point. The companies were previously embroiled in a public dispute over trade secrets in 2017 when Waymo filed a lawsuit accusing a former engineer—later Uber's self-driving car project chief—of taking confidential documents. The conflict was resolved when Uber agreed to pay Waymo $245 million in stock.
Past Collaborations Between Uber and Waymo
Despite their tumultuous past, Waymo and Uber's freight unit had previously collaborated last year, aiming to aid customers in deploying autonomous trucks more efficiently. The current partnership continues this trend of collaboration for better service delivery.