Uber CEO Says He’s Open to Working With Waymo on Self-Driving Cars
This comes just months after the two companies settled a massive legal battle.
Just months after the two companies settled a major legal dispute, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said he is open to working with Waymo on self-driving cars, including using Waymo cars in Uber's ride-hailing network.
"We're having discussions with Waymo. If something happens, great," Khosrowshahi said at Recode's Code Conference in California. He said deploying Waymo autonomous cars on Uber's network simply makes financial sense because it would increase utilization rates of those cars.
Khosrowshahi's statements came only a few months after Uber and Waymo settled a self-driving car lawsuit. Waymo sued Uber in 2017, alleging the ride-hailing company used trade secrets stolen by engineer Anthony Levandowski. In February, Uber agreed to give Waymo a 0.34-percent stake in the company—worth around $245 million—and assure Waymo that it would not use any of the company's trade secrets.
Uber's self-driving car testing program was halted in March after a fatal crash in Arizona. The state subsequently suspended Uber's testing permit, and the company chose to withdraw from Arizona. Once investigations into the crash are complete, Uber plans to resume testing in Pittsburgh, Sacramento, and San Francisco. But Pittsburgh has already said that Uber will have to follow stricter rules, including limiting cars to 25 mph.
Meanwhile, Waymo has announced plans to launch an autonomous ride-hailing service in Arizona before the end of this year. The former Google self-driving car project will also add up to 20,000 Jaguar I-Pace electric SUVs to its fleet. But Waymo lacks experience operating a ride-hailing service, and Uber could provide access to its large pool of existing users. It's conceivable that the two companies could help each other out.
Uber and Waymo are bitter rivals in self-driving cars, but partnerships are nothing new in this sector. Both Uber and Waymo have already sought outside help. They both buy cars from existing automakers, for example. A partnership could greatly accelerate the deployment of autonomous cars.