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Ride-hailing service Uber rolls out Driverless Cars in San Francisco with mission of Reliable Transportation Everywhere for Everyone

Uber tested autonomous cars earlier this year in Pittsburgh, but on a limited scale

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Uber began testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh and is now rolling out the service in San Francisco. (Uber), VOA

Dec 14, 2016: Ride-hailing service Uber has rolled out driverless cars in San Francisco, the second American city the company has targeted.

Uber tested autonomous cars earlier this year in Pittsburgh, but on a limited scale. The San Francisco rollout is expected to be larger.

Uber users in San Francisco will be the first to have a chance to ride in the company’s self-driving vehicle, which is a Volvo XC90 SUV equipped with LIDAR, a radar-type system that uses lasers as well as cameras and computers to navigate.

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“The promise of self-driving is core to our mission of reliable transportation everywhere for everyone,” Anthony Levandowski, Uber’s vice president of self-driving technology, said in a blog post.

Several tech companies have been or are exploring driverless cars, but Uber appears to have the advantage now.

Earlier this week, Alphabet, the parent company of Google, said it was spinning off its effort into a company called Waymo, a possible indication the cars are nearly ready to be tested in the real world. Tesla, Lyft and others are also working on autonomous cars.

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While the Pittsburgh launch was limited to a few frequent users within a small area, Uber says in San Francisco any passenger choosing an UberX ride, one of the cheaper options, could be picked up by a driverless car. The customer will have a choice to accept a driverless car or a regular driver.

As in Pittsburgh, an Uber employee will still be in the car in case of malfunction.

According to The New York Times, it was not clear if Uber legally could test driverless cars in San Francisco as it was not listed as a company holding a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles.

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An Uber spokeswoman told the paper the company was “compliant with applicable federal and state laws.”

“We are not planning to operate any differently than in Pittsburgh, where our pilot has been running successfully for several months,” wrote Levandowski. “Second, the rules apply to cars that can drive without someone controlling or monitoring them. For us, it’s still early days and our cars are not yet ready to drive without a person monitoring them.” (VOA)

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Uber’s Self-driving Unit Gets $1 bn Investment

According to market sources, the company may provide a price range for its shares later in April and would go public in May

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Photo shows an exterior view of the headquarters of Uber in San Francisco. (VOA)

The self driving unit of global ride-sharing major Uber has announced a $1 billion investment from Japanese conglomerate SoftBanks Vision Fund, car manufacturer Toyota and automotive component supplier Denso.

“Excited to announce Toyota, Denso and the SoftBank Vision Fund are making a $1 billion investment in Uber, as we work together towards the future of mobility,” Uber CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi tweeted late on Thursday.

Toyota and Japanese auto-parts supplier Denso will together invest $667 million, while Softbank’s Vision Fund will invest $333 million. SoftBank is already Uber’s largest shareholder, the CNBC reported.

Car maker Toyota invested $500 million in Uber in August 2018 when the two companies announced their intention to bring pilot-scale deployments of automated Toyota Sienna-based ridesharing vehicles to the Uber ridesharing network in 2021.

Uber app.

Uber officially filed its IPO process last week with the public filing of its prospectus. It would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under the symbol “UBER”.

“We have incurred significant losses since inception, including in the United States and other major markets. We expect our operating expenses to increase significantly in the foreseeable future, and we may not achieve profitability,” the company had said in the “S-1” form or the IPO Prospectus submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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The company noted that as of December 31, 2018, it had 91 million or 9.1 crore monthly active platform users. There were 3.9 million or 39 lakh drivers on the platform by the end of 2018.

According to market sources, the company may provide a price range for its shares later in April and would go public in May. (IANS)