Uber has decided to close its self-driving truck department, and concentrate its autonomous vehicle efforts in passenger car sphere.
"We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh, and as we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward,” Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, said in an internal email sent to employees and seen by Techcrunch.
Meyhofer went on to say the company still believes in the "incredible promise" of self-driving freight vehicles, but believed it was better focusing on one clear objective – autonomous cars – rather than having two teams working in parallel on separate platforms.
The ride-sharing company hopes to offer employees involved in the development of self-driving trucks jobs related to autonomous vehicle technology or transfers to positions at its Pittsburgh development centre.
Uber began work on self-driving trucks when it bought out startup company Otto for a reported US$680 million ($915 million). Otto was founded by several Google alumni, including Anthony Levandowski, who had worked on the search giant's then-unnamed self-driving project.
Google sued Uber in February 2016 claiming Levandowski was planning to use gigabytes worth of data downloaded from its servers for Uber's autonomous vehicle sensors.
Levandowski was fired by Uber in April 2017.
Otto under Uber's ownership did have one moment in the sun. In October 2016, it successfully delivered 51,744 cans of Budweiser, from Anheuser-Busch InBev's brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado to Colorado Springs around 210 kilometres away using an autonomous truck.