Uber negotiating selling autonomous vehicle division to a startup run by former Uber, Tesla and Google executives and backed by Amazon: Uber is looking to get rid of its autonomous vehicle division, Advanced Technologies Group (ATG), and industry startup Aurora Innovation is a likely candidate to acquire it, TechCrunch reported Friday.
Several sources told TechCrunch that Uber has been in talks with several potential buyers including some automakers, but that negotiations with Aurora, which began in October, are well advanced.
"We do not comment on rumors or speculation," an Aurora spokesman said, While Uber did not respond to a request for comment.
Despite the ambitious goals, ATG has long struggled to develop a fully autonomous vehicle that can move safely and efficiently. But it has done so by losing money, which has led to speculation in recent months.
According to TechCrunch, ATG faced the possibility that investors would consider lowering the valuation of the division that was previously at 7.250 million dollars (around 6.125 million euros at the current exchange rate).
Uber launched ATG 5 years ago and, in its short life, the division has been plagued by multiple scandals and setbacks, losing money on the road: Uber reported $ 303 million (256 million euros) in net losses for "ATG and other technologies" in its third quarter.
Uber negotiating selling autonomous vehicle division
Employees told Business Insider's Julie Bort that the deadly 2018 crash in Phoenix –the first autonomous car incident that killed a pedestrian– exposed ATG's technology flaws as well as poor decision-making and infighting. (Uber was found not responsible for the incident, while the human driver it was supervising was charged with negligent homicide.)
The former head of such a division of Uber, Anthony Levandowski, was also at the center of a major legal dispute between Uber and Google's self-driving group, now called Waymo, over the theft of the technology. In 2017 and after refusing to testify, Uber fired Levandowski, who was recently sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets).
In September, the Information published that an ATG manager sent an email to Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi warning him about the shortcomings of the company's self-driving efforts. In this he said that ATG "has not managed to evolve in so long that something has to be said before a disaster occurs".
Scandals, infighting and a lack of technological progress have led investors to become impatient.
Bloomberg reported in September that 2 of Uber's largest investors, SoftBank and Benchmark, have urged Khosrowshahi to rethink ATG's strategy and bring in more outside investments. ATG has received funding from Toyota and Denso in recent years.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Uber has sold several of its less successful side projects, such as electric bike startup Jump, while focusing on its core passenger transportation and food delivery businesses.
Uber is not the only company fighting for autonomous driving. The industry is a far cry from the optimistic expectations that companies and analysts created during the 2010s. No automaker seems to be close to selling vehicles that can operate without human supervision.
Aurora is well positioned
However, Aurora, which was created in 2016 by prominent members of Uber, Google and Tesla's autonomous driving programs, is on an upward trajectory.
Several investors told Business Insider's Mark Matousek that Aurora has the greatest potential among self-driving startups due to its strong founding team, technology, and fundraising ability.
However, with only 765.6 million dollars (647 million euros) raised, Aurora is substantially smaller than ATG and is likely to have to bring in outside investments or allow Uber to retain some capital to acquire it.
Uber negotiating selling autonomous vehicle division
Pharmacies assure that they can perform antigen tests despite the opposition of doctors and nurses: "we can keep a record of data and facilitate the tracing work"
At the beginning of November, the president of the community of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, announced that she would ask the Spanish Agency for medicines and health products to allow the Regional Government to carry out covid-19 antigen tests in pharmacies and Dental Clinics, “Safe Places with professionals prepared to do them” that will make it easier to carry out these tests throughout the region.
If approved, the measure would respond to what pharmacists have been demanding since the beginning of the pandemic.
"More pharmacy is also greater safety for the population. We will not tire of reaching out to the administrations, because we are aware of the exceptional role played by the pharmacy network and its tremendous health potential to curb the chain of covid-19 infections", says the official College of Pharmacists of Madrid (Cofm) in its blog.
"We are living an extraordinary situation in which Primary Care is collapsed and what we have offered is our pharmacy network," they explain from the General Council of pharmaceutical colleges.
"The idea is to carry out screening and early detection programs under the protocols that are established in a consensual manner with the autonomous communities as part of a public health program," they add.
From the General Council they assure that pharmacies can participate in these activities under the law as part of a public health program, whose establishment is the competence of the Autonomous Communities, and point out that it is no different from the programs in which Catalan pharmacies for colon cancer or in the Basque Country for AIDS participate.
"We have 22,000 pharmacies that reach any corner of the world and 54,000 pharmacists trained to participate in public health programs as required by law," they insist.
In fact, Galicia allowed the participation of pharmacies in the province of Ourense in an epidemiological study.
65% of pharmacies in the area have adhered "altruistically"to a measure whose objective is to detect asymptomatic patients through serological tests, which are performed by appointment and are free, according to 20 minutes.
In other countries, pharmacies already conduct diagnostic tests on the population. "It's not a jump without a net. Countries such as France, Portugal, Australia or Canada, with health systems of the most consolidated in the world, have resorted to their network of pharmacies to make serological or antigen tests to the population, thus increasing their chances of detection of the virus”, denounce from the COF of Madrid.
The Societies of doctors and nurses, against the measure
"We are not hurting anyone's competition or entering into a war with sister professions," they declare from the Council.
However, the possibility that pharmacies can perform these tests has been highly criticized by the Societies of doctors and nurses.
The State Conference of Deans, nursing directors, Scientific Societies of Nursing, Nursing Union and General Council of Nursing, sent a manifesto in October in which they assured that using pharmacies as an extension of the healthcare system, "it would be a covert privatization of Public Health, with professionals not qualified for these functions, which hides interests in terms of economic benefit for pharmaceutical entrepreneurs and not a benefit or improvement for citizens".
His rejection also joined the college Medical Organisation (WTO) and the Federation of Societies Scientific and Medical España (FACME), which brings together 46 scientific societies-medical, who ensured that "it would be clearly ill-advised" that the people in this situation of disease, highly contagious, come to the pharmacy to have this type of tests due to "the high risk of spread to the users and workers of the office."
From the Council of Pharmacists deny economic motivations and assure that the realization of the tests would be carried out under the conditions that were agreed with the autonomous communities.
"We want to be part of the solution," they conclude.