Uber, the world’s largest ride-sharing company and one of the most valuable startups ever, is in the self-driving vehicle business. The question is why? Dozens of more technologically qualified companies and larger businesses already dominate the sector. Uber could license technology from some of these.
Uber is at work on self-driving trucks and cars, although there are rumors it will drop out of the truck business. Uber has a division called Uber Advanced Technologies Group (ATG). Its mission: “At ATG, we are ambitious, engaged and excited about transforming the way the world moves.”
Uber claims the business aims to create safe and reliable transportation for everyone. And those people are everywhere, ATG claims.
Uber is up against a list of over two dozen companies, many of which are the largest car companies in the world. Ford Motor Co. (NYSE: F) management recently announced an ambitious multibillion-dollar plan to advance both self-driving electronic and self-driving cars. Its efforts have been matched by the largest car manufacturers in Europe, the United States and Japan.
Some of the world’s largest software companies also have self-driving initiatives. The most advanced of these was created by Alphabet Inc. (NASDAQ: GOOGL), the parent of Google. Its Waymo division’s cars have been driven over 8 million miles. Many of these tests have been done on public roads.
Companies that want into the self-driving car business eventually will be divided into two groups. First will be those that have built successful self-driving cars or components to run them. Second will be companies that need this technology, some of which have failed in their own efforts.
Uber should admit it almost certainly will be in the second group, give up its work in the sector and use technologies from companies that have the financial firepower and product development skills to be successful.