Yesterday was a big day for Uber. The company revealed it will be launching a fleet of self-driving taxis in Pittsburgh by the end of this month. The cars, which will be monitored by humans in the driver seat, will be custom-rigged Volvo SUVs—part of a $300 million deal Uber struck with the automaker. Just a few days ago Ford announced plans to launch its own fleet of self-driving cars by 2021, while Lyft and GM have said they’d have a fleet of their own on the road within a year. Looks like Uber has taken a first-mover advantage.
As if that wasn’t big enough news, Uber also announced it has acquired Otto, a company developing self-driving technology for the trucking industry. This is interesting for a few reasons.
First, Uber has beefed up its self-driving team with major talent, given Otto was founded by ex-Googlers who were working on the company’s self-driving car project, as well as Google Maps and the robotics team. The acquisition also opens up another addressable market for Uber. What started as an innovative taxi app has evolved into a dominant tech giant that's constantly developing and applying emerging tech to expand into new industries.