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Uber buys self-driving Otto truck startup, aligns with Volvo

Posted: August 19, 2016 by Today's Trucking Staff

SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Ride-hailing network Uber reports that it has acquired Otto, a 90-plus person technology startup from former Google execs that has so far focused solely on the concept of retrofit kits that turn typical trucks into self-driving ones.

Anthony Levandowski, Otto’s co-founder, will lead the company’s venture into self-driving technology, reports Uber CEO and co-founder Travis Kalanick.

“Anthony is one of the world’s leading autonomous engineers: his first invention, a self-driving motorcycle called Ghostrider, is now in the Smithsonian,” said Kalanick in a statement about the deal. “Just as important, Anthony is a prolific entrepreneur with a real sense of urgency.”

Kalanick’s statement also revealed that that Uber has formed a partnership with Volvo. As a result of the partnership, a pilot project for self-driving Uber rides on the streets of Pittsburgh is set for month’s end. Uber users will be able to hail a self-driving Volvo XC90 SUV.

Håkan Samuelsson, president and chief executive of Volvo Cars, said in a statement: “Volvo is a world leader in the development of active safety and autonomous drive technology and possesses an unrivaled safety credibility. We are very proud to be the partner of choice for Uber, one of the world’s leading technology companies. This alliance places Volvo at the heart of the current technological revolution in the automotive industry.”

Kalanick says he believes self-driving technology will end the current reality of traffic accidents being a leading cause of death for people under 25.

“By combining Uber’s self-driving technology with Volvo’s state-of-the art vehicles and safety technology, we’ll get to the future faster than going it alone,” said Kalanick. 

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