Uber says it’s definitely still in the autonomous game

A tipster emailed us a photo of a row of Uber cars parked in Pittsburgh last week, which raised some level of alarm that Uber may have discontinued its autonomous vehicle operation program. This was an exciting opportunity for a short while, at least until Uber said the program definitely didn’t end.

As a reminder, Uber’s whole proposal hangs on if it solves self-driving. The company as it is built has no sane future as people drive its taxis because people cost a lot of money and Uber’s long-term success depends on it not paying for those people. This is in large part also what supports the stock price and market valuation of $ 61 (86) billion (at the time of this writing).

And so, any suggestion to ditch self-driving development would be big news, as Uber would basically go out of business altogether. That suggestion wouldn’t go out of the box either – the information website posted a blog a few weeks ago about how difficult it was for Uber to solve the AV puzzle, on top of the aftermath of the fatal incident in Arizona. Nobody would accuse them of throwing in the towel for level 5 autonomous operation as level 5 autonomy may simply be impossible.

That brings us to the following photo, which the tipster sent to Jalopnik on Friday, of a group of Uber Volvos parked in Pittsburgh where Uber is testing autonomous cars.

Photo: OnkelWalty

This can be basically anything as I am assuming that not all cars are constantly tested by Uber and that some of the fleet can be parked at any given time. In any case, I emailed Uber to see what was going on. A spokesman gave me the following:

First of all, it is important to say that the self-driving program absolutely does not end and these photos should not be interpreted as such. What you see here is an older generation of our vehicles that we have “withdrawn” for operation. Since then, we have switched our tests to our newest vehicle (see figure in the appendix), which we are testing on our test track and with limited capacity on public roads.

The picture the speaker attached:

Photo: Uber

So Uber is still there. However, whether or not you think they will eventually get there is still very much up for debate.

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