Uber Technologies is under increasing pressure to find new investors and revamp the strategy for its experimental, self-driving car division, which has begun to lose ground to competitors, Bloomberg reports.
With the self-driving division set to run out of money by the end of next year, Benchmark and SoftBank Group Corp., Uber’s two biggest shareholders, are pushing for a shakeup of the ridesharing company’s efforts one of transportation’s newest frontiers, according to the news service, citing two sources familiar with the situation.
Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is now weighing whether to ramp up the project by taking the open-source route on developing the self-driving car’s critical software program, or keep the effort in-house and rely on partners and Denso Corp., while potentially bringing in additional players as well, according to Bloomberg.
The tough decisions confronting Uber on the automated-car front are a reversal of fortune for the ridesharing giant, which was once considered to be leading the charge in the development of this new technology.
But Uber’s hand is now being forced as competitors like Alphabet’s Waymo and Amazon’s Zoox start to leap ahead, with the potential to cut Uber out of the race altogether if it falls too far behind.
In a significant step forward, Amazon’s Zoox recently won permission to test its self-driving cars on California roadways, with no required safety driver, Bloomberg reports.
“Self-driving is the next smartphone,” PitchBook mobility analyst Asad Hussain told Bloomberg. “You don’t want to get left out.”
It wouldn’t be fair, though, to say Uber hasn’t been making progress.
In June, Uber unveiled a Volvo self-driving car, with plans to have the Swedish car company start to build the new model, the XC90. The new car is designed to have standard controls for human drivers alongside steering and braking that can be switched over to a computerized system.