Driverless cars

Uber: Focusing on the future

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

Uber app
PA

Uber is planning to list its shares on the New York Stock Exchange in a deal likely to value the ride hailing taxi app firm at about $100bn.

As mentioned earlier, it is ploughing huge amounts of money into autonomous vehicle technology, and as a result, although it has grown impressively fast, it also routinely incurs heavy losses.

"We're quite quite small right now. It's doesn't matter how you phrase it, we're quite early in the transition from the overall transportation system we have, to something that looks more like mobility as a service in the future," Andrew Salzberg, Uber's head of transport policy tells BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"I think at the end of the day, people have to be convinced that there's a story here that this growth is going to justify the numbers we're talking about, and that's what we're building."

Playing the long game

Today Programme

BBC Radio 4

A man wearing an Uber t-shirt stands in front of a car
AFP

It might not make sense for a company like Uber to be worth $100bn but might never make a profit, but some experts think that the ride hailing taxi app firm does have a strategy in place.

"What they've been doing is spending a lot of money to win market share. Right now they've got a lot of rivals - people driving their own cars, Ola in India, Lyft in the US, and their hope is that they can keep innovating, keep spending, they can invest to beat out the competition, and eventually improve their profit margins over the long run," Shanti Kelemen, Senior Portfolio Manager, Coutts told the Today programme.

"Think of the long run - it's not just the market for taxis, they want to stop you from driving your car to work, and have some sort of service that does that for you.

"That could be decades away, but they're looking at that long-term market opportunity for how do you move people around in their daily lives."

Autonomous bus to be tested in New York City

Autonomous bus in New York
Optimus Ride

A self-driving shuttle bus service is to be deployed in New York City by the middle of the year.

Boston start-up Optimus Ride will run vehicles on private roads at the Brooklyn Navy Yard site located on New York's East River.

The shuttle will help workers get around the large site.

Self-driving vehicles are being widely trialled around the world, but vehicles sometimes crash and some regulators have halted tests.

Amazon moves into driverless cars

Aurora tech on a car
Reuters

A self-driving car technology start-up founded by former Google, Tesla and Uber executives says it has secured $530m in new funding that included a "significant" investment from Amazon.

The funding round for Aurora Innovation led by Silicon Valley venture capital powerhouse Sequoia reportedly valued the start-up launched just two years ago at more than $2.5bn.

"We are always looking to invest in innovative, customer-obsessed companies, and Aurora is just that," Amazon told the AFP news agency.

"Autonomous technology has the potential to help make the jobs of our employees and partners safer and more productive, whether it's in a fulfillment centre or on the road, and we're excited about the possibilities," Amazon said.

Aurora is developing the technology for autonomous vehicles, but leaving the making of cars to other companies and said in a blog post it wants to work alongside, rather than compete with, leading automakers.