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Uber Ditches Self-Driving Trucks: Is It the Right Call?

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Uber announced this Monday that it is abandoning its self-driving truck program to focus more on its self-driving car program.

Uber’s self-driving truck program, a division of Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, has been successful before. For example, in 2016, it completed the world’s first autonomous truck delivery of Budweiser cans and delivered freight on highways in Arizona using automated Volvo trucks.

Despite the abandonment of the self-driving truck program, Uber Freight—a smartphone app that links truck drivers to freight—will continue. The company introduced Uber Freight and bought Otto in 2016—signaling potential for autonomous trucking in the company.

Uber’s decision to bow out of the self-driving car race is a little bit surprising, though. While the autonomous car idea is very appealing, autonomous trucks tend to be more realistic, as highways are more likely to be easier to navigate than bustling streets. Not to mention that self-driving trucks can reduce freight costs while increasing margins. It seems to be a good idea for all companies.

Uber’s self-driving truck program had multiple competitors, including Tesla (TSLA - Free Report) and Google’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Waymo. Now, with Uber out of the way, the competition got less crowded.

Uber says that it is planning on focusing more on self-driving cars instead. That decision is a bit questionable considering how the self-driving car program was suspended in March after it hit a pedestrian. Perhaps Uber is trying to amend its mistakes and invest more in the autonomous car program instead of the truck program.

Regardless of how Uber’s endeavors in the autonomous car race turn out, it is by far the biggest company when it comes to ride-hailing. Even when compared to its competitor Lyft, Uber boasts a staunch position in the industry.

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